Physiological basis for novel drug therapies used to treat the inflammatory bowel diseases. I. Immunology and therapeutic potential of antiadhesion molecule therapy in inflammatory bowel disease

Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2005 Feb;288(2):G169-74. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00423.2004.


Adhesion molecules regulate the influx of leukocytes in normal and inflamed gut. They are also involved in local lymphocyte stimulation and antigen presentation within the intestinal mucosa. In intestinal inflammation, many adhesion molecules are upregulated, but alpha4-integrins most likely hold a key position in directing leukocytes into the inflamed bowel wall. Therapeutic compounds directed against trafficking of leukocytes have been designed and are being developed as a novel class of drugs in the treatment of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. This review deals with the immunological aspects of leukocyte trafficking focused on gut homing of T cells. Second, the changes in adhesion molecules and T cell trafficking during intestinal inflammation are discussed. Finally, we review the clinical data that have been gathered with respect to the therapeutic potential and the safety of antiadhesion molecule treatment. Antegren, or natalizumab, a humanized anti-alpha4 integrin IgG4 antibody, has been most extensively evaluated and may be close to registration. A more specific humanized alpha4beta7-integrin MLN-02 has shown preliminary clinical efficacy in ulcerative colitis, and both antergren and MLN-02 appear to be very safe. Trials with the anti-ICAM-1 antisense oligonucleotide ISIS-2302 in steroid refractory Crohn's disease have provided conflicting efficacy data. In the near future, some of these novel biological agents may prove valuable therapeutic tools in the management of refractory inflammatory bowel disease, although it is too early to define the patient population that will benefit most from these agents.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / immunology
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / immunology
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / immunology
  • Integrin alpha4 / immunology
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 / immunology
  • Natalizumab
  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides, Antisense / therapeutic use
  • Phosphorothioate Oligonucleotides
  • T-Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • T-Lymphocytes / physiology*
  • Thionucleotides / therapeutic use


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Natalizumab
  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides, Antisense
  • Phosphorothioate Oligonucleotides
  • Thionucleotides
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1
  • Integrin alpha4
  • alicaforsen