Immunological basis of inflammatory bowel disease: role of the microcirculation

Microcirculation. 2001 Oct;8(5):283-301. doi: 10.1038/sj/mn/7800095.


Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic inflammatory condition of the intestine and/or colon of unknown etiology in which patients suffer from severe diarrhea, rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, fever, and weight loss. Active episodes of IBD are characterized by vasodilation, venocongestion, edema, infiltration of large numbers of inflammatory cells, and erosions and ulcerations of the bowel. It is becoming increasingly apparent that chronic gut inflammation may result from a dysregulated immune response toward components of the normal intestinal flora, resulting in a sustained overproduction of proinflammatory cytokines and mediators. Many of these Th1 and macrophage-derived cytokines and lipid metabolites are known to activate microvascular endothelial cells, thereby promoting leukocyte recruitment into the intestinal interstitium. This review discusses the basic immune mechanisms involved in the regulation of inflammatory responses in the gut and describes how a breakdown in this protective response initiates chronic gut inflammation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Colitis / etiology
  • Colitis / immunology
  • Colitis / pathology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / cytology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / immunology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immune System / cytology
  • Immunity, Cellular / immunology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / etiology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / immunology*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / pathology
  • Microcirculation / cytology
  • Microcirculation / immunology
  • Microcirculation / physiology