The expression of IL-12 p40 and its homologue, Epstein-Barr virus-induced gene 3, in inflammatory bowel disease

Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2001 Aug;7(3):215-20. doi: 10.1097/00054725-200108000-00006.


Background: It has recently been suggested that Crohn's Disease (CD) is associated with an exaggerated T helper 1 cytokine response as manifest by increased production of interleukin-12 (IL-12) and interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma). Epstein-Barr virus-induced gene 3 (EBI3) encodes a 34-kDa glycoprotein that is 27% identical to the p40 unit of IL-12 and has recently been reported to be up-regulated in ulcerative colitis (UC).

Aim: To determine whether mucosal expression of IL-12 p40 or EBI3 correlates with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Patients/methods: mRNA expression in colonic mucosa from patients with UC, Crohn's disease (CD) and non-IBD controls was measured by reverse-transcribed real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR).

Results: EBI3 was significantly increased in both involved and uninvolved colonic mucosa in patients with UC. Although IL-12 p40 was increased in some patients with CD relative to non-IBD controls, the increase was not statistically significant. However, 5-aminosalicylic acid (5-ASA) use was significantly correlated with reduced IL-12 p40 levels in the patients with CD, but not in UC cases. A similar reduction was not seen in 5-ASA-treated UC patients.

Conclusion: IL-12 p40 expression in CD is heterogeneous. In contrast, expression of the IL-12 p40 homologue, EBI3, is up-regulated in nearly all UC cases and in a subset of CD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / metabolism
  • Crohn Disease / metabolism
  • DNA Primers
  • DNA Probes
  • DNA, Complementary / analysis
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / analysis*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Female
  • Glycoproteins / analysis*
  • Glycoproteins / genetics
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / genetics
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / metabolism*
  • Interleukin-12 / analysis*
  • Interleukin-12 / genetics
  • Interleukins
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minor Histocompatibility Antigens
  • NADPH Oxidases
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Proteins*
  • Receptors, Cytokine*


  • DNA Primers
  • DNA Probes
  • DNA, Complementary
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • EBI3 protein, human
  • Glycoproteins
  • Interleukins
  • Minor Histocompatibility Antigens
  • Proteins
  • Receptors, Cytokine
  • Interleukin-12
  • NADPH Oxidases
  • NCF4 protein, human