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Clin Exp Immunol. 2004 Nov;138(2):323-9.

Imbalance between interleukin-1 agonists and antagonists: relationship to severity of inflammatory bowel disease.

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Department of Medicine, University Hospital Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria.


Interleukin (IL)-1 is a key mediator in the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Naturally occurring IL-1 modulators include IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra), IL-1 soluble receptor Type I (IL-1sRI), IL-1sRII and IL-1 receptor accessory protein (AcP). Systemic and mucosal levels of IL-1 soluble receptors remain unknown in IBD. Plasma or colonic tissues were obtained from 185 consecutive unselected patients with Crohn's disease (CD) or ulcerative colitis (UC) and from 52 control subjects. Plasma and colonic explant culture supernatants were assessed for IL-1alpha, IL-1beta, IL-1Ra, IL-1sRI and IL-1sRII. Plasma IL-1Ra levels were higher in UC (+93%) than in healthy subjects. IL-1alpha and IL-1beta were not detected. IL-1sRII levels were marginally lower in CD (-10%) and UC (-9%), whereas IL-1sRI levels were elevated in CD (+28%) only. Plasma IL-1sRI levels correlated positively (P < 0.01) with Crohn's disease activity index (r = 0.53), C-reactive protein (r = 0.46) and alpha1-acid glycoprotein (r = 0.42). In colonic explant cultures, IL-1alpha and IL-1Ra levels were elevated in non-lesional (+233% and +185% respectively) and lesional CD (+353% and +1069%), lesional UC (+604% and +1138%), but not in non-lesional UC. IL-1beta was elevated in lesional UC (+152%) and CD (+128%). In contrast, IL-1sRII levels were elevated in non-lesional CD (+65%), but remained unchanged in lesional CD, non-lesional and lesional UC. IL-1sRI levels did not differ between patient and control groups. These results indicate that (i) the proinflammatory moiety IL-1sRI is a systemic marker of inflammation and activity in CD and (ii) local shedding of the functional antagonist IL-1sRII may dampen colonic inflammation in CD, but not in UC.

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