Background & aims: Few data exist on the molecular events causing intestinal epithelial destruction during inflammatory processes, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). In this work, we analyzed the potential implication of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-related apoptosis inducing ligand (TRAIL) in these inflammatory lesions.
Methods: TRAIL and TRAIL-receptor expression were analyzed in normal, inflammatory ileum/colon and human intestinal epithelial cell (IEC) lines (HIEC), Caco-2, and HT-29 using RNase protection assay, real-time and reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), immunohistochemistry, and Western blot analysis. TRAIL-induced activation of NF-kappaB was determined by electrophoretic mobility shift assay. Caspase-recruitment domain (CARD)15 expression and interleukin-(IL)8 production were studied by RT-PCR and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Apoptosis was monitored using Annexin-V/caspase-3 assays.
Results: Normal mature IEC expressed low TRAIL levels, whereas, in inflammatory lesions, TRAIL messenger RNA and protein were markedly up-regulated in IEC and lamina propria lymphocytes at levels comparable with trinitrobenzene sulfonic acid-induced colitis. Interferon-gamma and TNF-alpha potently induced TRAIL in IEC. In vitro analyses revealed a dual biologic effect of TRAIL on HIEC: Under noninflammatory conditions, TRAIL up-regulated via nuclear factor-kappaB CARD15 and IL-8, whereas, under inflammatory conditions, TRAIL became a potent inducer of apoptosis in HIEC, which was confirmed ex vivo using ileal organ cultures. TNF-alpha markedly increased the expression of the proapoptotic receptor TRAIL-R2. TRAIL-induced IEC apoptosis required a functional caspase cascade.
Conclusions: TRAIL is a new inflammatory mediator implicated in the homeostasis of intestinal epithelial barrier functions. TRAIL is highly up-regulated in IEC in inflammatory ileum and colon. It may augment in an auto-/paracrine fashion the elimination of IEC via apoptosis.