Tissue accumulation of polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMN) in Inflammatory Bowel disease (IBD) might be, in part, due to a delay in apoptotic processes associated with the effects of their specific growth factors and inflammatory cytokines. We addressed this hypothesis by examining the activity of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) and granulocyte-macrophage CSF (GM-CSF) in the organ culture supernatants of colonic mucosal specimens and their regulatory effects on PMN apoptosis in patients with IBD. The contents of G-CSF and GM-CSF in the supernatants were measured by the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays and PMN apoptosis was evaluated by acridine orange/ethidium bromide staining, respectively. Mucosal specimens obtained from patients with active IBD exhibited higher levels of G-CSF and GM-CSF activity than controls. Notably, the levels of G-CSF activity were approximately 1000-fold higher than those of GM-CSF activity. Freshly isolated PMN showed a time-related increase in the proportion of cells with characteristic features of apoptosis when they were incubated with the culture medium alone and exposure of PMN to recombinant G-CSF and GM-CSF caused a concentration-dependent inhibition of apoptosis. Incubation of PMN with the supernatants from patients with active IBD induced an inhibitory effect on PMN apoptosis; this effect was abrogated to a significant degree by pre-incubation of the supernatants with anti-G-CSF serum. This study suggests that PMN apoptosis may be delayed under the influence of soluble mediators, especially G-CSF, in the microenvironment of IBD-affected mucosa, thus providing possible mechanisms for tissue accumulation of PMN in IBD.