Background: Creeping fat represents a characteristic feature of Crohn's disease (CD), and adipose tissue secretes adipocytokines and chemokines/growth factors such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Because VEGF serum levels and mucosal VEGF expression is elevated in CD patients, the aim of the present paper was to investigate creeping fat-derived VEGF secretion in CD.
Material and methods: Adipose tissue was obtained from creeping fat of 10 patients with CD. Mesenteric adipose tissue was resected from 13 patients with colon cancer (CC) and from seven patients with diverticulitis (DIV). Three fat tissue specimens per well, and several wells (6-8) per patient were incubated ex vivo for 24 h. The release of VEGF into the supernatant was measured by ELISA.
Results: There was stable VEGF secretion from mesenteric adipose tissue of patients with CC or DIV and from creeping fat of patients with CD. Whereas the VEGF secretion rate was not different between patients with CD (465 +/- 98 pg/g fat per 24 h) and CC (399 +/- 48 pg/g fat per 24 h), VEGF secretion was significantly reduced in patients suffering from DIV (115 +/- 41 pg/g fat per 24 h; P < 0.0001 and P = 0.001, respectively). The CD patients treated with steroids had significantly lower VEGF secretion rates (294 +/- 42 pg/g fat per 24 h) than CD patients not receiving steroids (607 +/- 105 pg/g fat per 24 h; P = 0.001).
Conclusions: Creeping fat is an important source of VEGF secretion. The characteristics of the inflammatory changes in CD might be due to the lack of VEGF downregulation that is seen in DIV.