Background & aims: Interleukin (IL)-22, a member of the IL-10 subfamily, is a recently identified T-cell-derived cytokine. We investigated IL-22 expression in the inflamed mucosa of patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and analyzed its biologic activities in human colonic subepithelial myofibroblasts (SEMFs).
Methods: Mucosal IL-22 expression was evaluated by immunohistochemical procedures. The effects of IL-22 on colonic SEMFs were investigated by cDNA microarrays, Northern blots, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and electrophoretic gel mobility shift assays (EMSAs).
Results: IL-22 was not detectable in normal colonic mucosa. In IBD mucosa, IL-22 expression was detectable in CD4-positive T cells. IL-22-positive cells were increased in ulcerative colitis and even more so in Crohn's disease. IL-22 receptor expression colocalized with a marker of SEMFs. IL-22 did not modulate SEMF proliferation and collagen synthesis. cDNA microarray analyses demonstrated that, in colonic SEMFs, IL-22 increased the messenger RNA (mRNA) expression of inflammatory cytokines (IL-6, IL-8, IL-11, and leukemia inhibitory factor [LIF]), chemokines, and matrix metalloproteinases. IL-22 induced an activation of nuclear factor (NF)-kappaB and activating protein (AP)-1 within 1 hour, and a blockade of NF-kappaB and AP-1 activation markedly reduced IL-22 induction of IL-6, IL-8, IL-11, and LIF mRNA. MAP-kinase inhibitors (PD98059, U0216, and SB202190) significantly reduced IL-22 induction of cytokine secretion. The combination of either IL-17 plus IL-22 or IL-19 plus IL-22 additively up-regulated cytokine secretion.
Conclusions: IL-22 derived from activated T cells acts on SEMFs to elicit expression of proinflammatory cytokines and matrix-degrading molecules indicating proinflammatory/remodeling roles in IBD.