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Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2019 Jan 10;25(2):283-293. doi: 10.1093/ibd/izy306.

Mesenteric Adipose Tissue Alterations in Crohn's Disease Are Associated With the Lymphatic System.

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Department of General Surgery, Jinling Hospital, Medical School of Nanjing University, Nanjing, China.
State Key Laboratory of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology and MOE Key Laboratory of Model Animal for Disease Study, Model Animal Research Center, Nanjing Biomedical Research Institute, Nanjing University, Nanjing, China.



Mesenteric fat wrapping and thickening are typical characteristics of Crohn's disease (CD). The purpose of this study was to explore the cause of mesenteric adipose hypertrophy and analyze the role of lymphatic vessels in mesenteric adipose tissue in CD.


Twenty-three CD patients who underwent ileocolonic resection were included. In CD patients, specimens were obtained from hypertrophic mesenteric adipose tissue (htMAT) next to the diseased ileum. The mesenteric lymphatic vessels in mesenteric adipose tissue were separated under stereoscope microscope. Transmission electron microscopy and immunofluorescence were used to observe the structure of mesenteric lymphatic vessels. The NF-κB signaling pathway in mesenteric adipose tissue was detected in CD specimens using Western blotting.


Electron microscopy showed that the structure of mesenteric lymphatic vessel was discontinuous, and the microstructure of lymphatic endothelial cells appeared ruptured and incomplete. Through an immunofluorescence technique, we found that the surface of lymphatic endothelial cells lacked tight junction protein staining in CD. Also, the expression of claudin-1, occludin, and ZO-1 in the mesenteric lymphatic vessel of htMAT was significantly lower than that of control. These results indicated that the structure of the mesenteric lymphatic vessel in htMAT was mispatterned and ruptured, which could lead to lymph leakage. Leaky lymph factors could stimulate adipose tissue to proliferate. Antigens that leaked into the mesenteric adipose tissue could effectively elicit an immune response. The levels of cytokines (TNF-a, IL-1β, IL-6) was increased in the htMAT of CD patients by activated NF-κB signaling pathway.


Our findings demonstrated that the hypertrophy of mesenteric adipose tissue may result from mispatterned and ruptured lymphatic vessels. Alteration of mesenteric adipose tissue was associated with activated NF-κB signaling pathway. This study enhances support for elucidating the importance of mesenteric lymphatic vessels and adipose tissue in CD.


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