TGF-beta1 production in inflammatory bowel disease: differing production patterns in Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis

Clin Exp Immunol. 2003 Oct;134(1):120-6. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2249.2003.02250.x.


Transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) is an inhibitory cytokine recognized as a key regulator of immunological homeostasis and inflammatory responses. TGF-beta is involved in experimental models of oral tolerance and in the pathogenesis of experimental colitis. Patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) have inappropriate T cell responses to antigenic components of their own intestinal microflora, suggesting the presence of a disorder in the normal mucosal immune mechanism that ensures the down-regulation of responses to harmless constituents in the microflora. To evaluate the contribution of TGF-beta to this imbalance, we measured TGF-beta1 production by lamina propria mononuclear cells (LPMC) and T cells isolated from tissue specimens of patients with Crohn's disease (CD), ulcerative colitis (UC) and controls. Cells were cultured in the presence or absence of anti-CD2 plus anti-CD28 MoAbs and TGF-beta1 production in culture supernatants was measured by ELISA. LPMC isolated from CD patients produced significantly less TGF-beta1 than controls when stimulated via CD2 plus CD28 pathways (P = 0.001)] conversely, in UC patients increased production of TGF-beta1 compared to controls was observed (P = 0.0005). These differences were also observed with purified lamina propria (LP) T cells in both diseases and were associated with the presence of inflammation. Thus, TGF-beta1 production shows contrasting secretion in CD and in UC, probably as a consequence of the different Th polarization. The absolute or relative defect in TGF-beta1 production observed in CD and UC may contribute to the perpetuation of inflammation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / immunology*
  • Crohn Disease / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Interleukin-5 / metabolism
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / metabolism*
  • Middle Aged
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / immunology*


  • Interleukin-5
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Interferon-gamma