Background: Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC), the 2 major forms of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), have been associated with disturbances in vascular physiology, including permeability and angiogenesis, that are in part regulated by the endothelial intercellular junctions. These junctions are composed of several adhesion molecules including the platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1 (PECAM-1, CD31) and the more recently described CD146 (S-Endo1 Ag, MUC18).
Aim: To study the expression of tissue and soluble form of CD146 in patients with CD or UC in relation to disease activity and location. This study was made in comparison with the soluble form of CD31 (sCD31).
Results: In active disease, a high expression of CD146 was observed on endothelial cells in intestinal biopsies from both CD and UC. In addition, we observed a decrease of sCD146 in relation to active disease and extensive location of CD and UC. Lower levels of sCD31 were also detected in active and extensive location of UC, but no difference could be observed in CD.
Conclusion: sCD146 is a novel marker of the endothelial intercellular junction that reflects endothelial remodeling more effectively than soluble CD31. Further studies are warranted to determine whether sCD146 will provide a serological assay reflecting alterations in vascular permeability and vessel proliferation in the inflamed IBD intestine.