Background: Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a potent angiogenic, vascular permeability-enhancing cytokine with overexpression in various pathological disorders, including tumour growth, chronic inflammation and tissue repair. Recent studies have shown significantly increased serum levels of VEGF in patients with inflammatory bowel disease. The origin of the circulating VEGF is still unknown. The present investigation examines the VEGF production by peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) in patients with inflammatory bowel disease.
Methods: VEGF levels were measured in culture supernatants of unstimulated PBMCs of 27 patients with inflammatory bowel disease and 10 healthy volunteers using a solid phase ELISA. In addition, VEGF serum levels were determined.
Results: PBMCs of both active Crohn's disease patients (1142.6+/-483.9 pg/ml, P < 0.001, n = 12) and active ulcerative colitis patients (748.0+/-637.6 pg/ml, P = 0.006, n = 4) produced significantly higher amounts of VEGF compared with PBMCs of healthy volunteers (113.4+/-101.8 pg/ml, n = 10). In addition, there was a significantly increased VEGF production by PBMCs of patients with active disease compared with PBMCs of patients with quiescent Crohn's disease (261.6+/-254.8 pg/ml, P < 0.001, n = 7) and inactive ulcerative colitis (147.7+/-100.3 pg/ml, P = 0.02, n = 4). There was no significant difference in VEGF release between patients with inactive inflammatory bowel disease and healthy controls.
Conclusions: Significantly increased VEGF production by PBMCs was found in patients with active Crohn's disease and active ulcerative colitis. The study helps to clarify one of the origins of the significantly enhanced VEGF serum levels in patients with active inflammatory bowel disease observed in recent studies.