Cytokines and inflammatory bowel disease.
Radford-Smith G., Jewell DP.
Cytokines play an important role in the pathology of inflammatory bowel disease by determining the nature of the mucosal immune response. One way of establishing whether CD and UC are causally related to a defect in the host immune response is to look for polymorphisms that are over-represented in these populations. This is being carried out at great pace both for the cytokine genes and for some other immune response genes. A number of gene expression studies have established that those cytokines produced by activated macrophages such as IL-1, IL-6 and TNF are significantly elevated in both diseases. Differences between the two diseases are less clear, and, where they have been found, they probably reflect the accuracy and sensitivity of quantification. The picture is less clear for the T-cell-derived cytokines, which are generally expressed at a lower copy number in intestinal tissue compared to the monokines. For Crohn's disease, the TH1 cytokines IL-2 and IFN may be abnormally elevated or decreased. In contrast, the TH1/TH2 profile in UC is not significantly different from normal controls. Further work is required to confirm these findings.