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Cell Cycle. 2010 Feb 15;9(4):652-5. Epub 2010 Feb 12.

Activation of epithelial STAT3 regulates intestinal homeostasis.

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Medical Clinic I, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Erlangen, Germany.


The intestinal epithelium that lines the mucosal surface along the GI-tract is a key player for the intestinal homeostasis of the healthy individual. In case of a mucosal damage or a barrier defect as seen in patients with inflammatory bowel disease, the balance is disturbed, and translocation of intestinal microbes to the submucosa is facilitated. We recently demonstrated a pivotal role of STAT3 activation in intestinal epithelial cells (IEC) for the restoration of the balance at the mucosal surface of the gut in an experimental colitis model. STAT3 was rapidly induced in intestinal epithelial cells upon challenge of mice in both experimental colitis and intestinal wound healing models. STAT3 activation was found to be dispensable in the steady-state conditions but was important for efficient regeneration of the epithelium in response to injury. Here, we extend our previous findings by showing epithelial STAT3 activation in human patients suffering from IBD and provide additional insights how the activation of epithelial STAT3 by IL-22 regulates intestinal homeostasis and mucosal wound healing. We also demonstrate that antibody-mediated neutralization of IL-22 has little impact on the development of experimental colitis in mice, but significantly delays recovery from colitis. Thus, our data suggest that targeting the STAT3 signaling pathway in IEC is a promising therapeutic approach in situations when the intestinal homeostasis is disturbed, e.g., as seen in Crohn's disease or Ulcerative colitis.

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