Expression of interleukin-12-related cytokine transcripts in inflammatory bowel disease: elevated interleukin-23p19 and interleukin-27p28 in Crohn's disease but not in ulcerative colitis

Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2005 Jan;11(1):16-23. doi: 10.1097/00054725-200501000-00003.


Background: It has been suggested that Crohn's disease (CD) is associated with an exaggerated T-helper 1 cytokine response manifested by increased production of interleukin (IL)-12. IL-12 is a heterodimeric protein comprising 2 disulfide-linked subunits designated p35 and p40. Recently, IL-12-related cytokines, IL-23 and IL-27, were described. Biologically active IL-23 is a heterodimer whose p40 subunit is identical to IL-12p40 whereas its p19 subunit is distantly related to IL-12p35. IL-27 consists of EBI3, an IL-12p40-related protein, and p28, a newly discovered IL-12p35-related polypeptide.

Aim: We sought to determine whether mucosal expression of IL-23p19 and IL-27p28 transcripts correlate with the inflammatory activity in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Patients/methods: Messenger RNA expression in colonic mucosa from patients with Crohn's disease (CD; n = 37) and ulcerative colitis (UC; n = 19), and in non-IBD control subjects (specific colitis [SC]; n = 16) and normal, nondiseased control patients (n = 12) was measured by reverse-transcribed real-time polymerase chain reaction.

Results: IL-23p19 was significantly increased in inflamed mucosa in CD (P = 0.0377) and to a lesser extent also in UC patients but not in SC patients. Elevation of IL-23p19 transcript levels in CD correlated with the severity of endoscopic lesions. IL-27p28 transcripts and EBI3 transcripts were significantly elevated only in active CD.

Discussion: IL-23p19, IL-27p28, and EBI3 transcripts are strongly up-regulated in CD. The stimulatory effects of these cytokines on naive T cells in addition to a strongly synergistic action with IL-12 to trigger interferon-gamma production may contribute to the perpetuation of the inflammatory process in patients with CD. Notably, increased expression of IL-23 and IL-27 transcripts in CD suggests a T helper 1-dominated immunologic function in this disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / genetics
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / metabolism*
  • Crohn Disease / genetics
  • Crohn Disease / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-23
  • Interleukin-23 Subunit p19
  • Interleukins / biosynthesis*
  • Interleukins / genetics
  • Intestinal Mucosa
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Up-Regulation


  • IL23A protein, human
  • Interleukin-23
  • Interleukin-23 Subunit p19
  • Interleukins
  • MYDGF protein, human
  • RNA, Messenger