Background & aims: Impaired mucosal defense plays an important role in the pathogenesis of Crohn's disease (CD), one of the main subtypes of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Deleted in malignant brain tumors 1 (DMBT1) is a secreted scavenger receptor cysteine-rich protein with predominant expression in the intestine and has been proposed to exert possible functions in regenerative processes and pathogen defense. Here, we aimed at analyzing the role of DMBT1 in IBD.
Methods: We studied DMBT1 expression in IBD and normal tissues by quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, immunohistochemistry, and mRNA in situ hybridization. Genetic polymorphisms within DMBT1 were analyzed in an Italian IBD case-control sample. Dmbt1(-/-) mice were generated, characterized, and analyzed for their susceptibility to dextran sulfate sodium-induced colitis.
Results: DMBT1 levels correlate with disease activity in inflamed IBD tissues. A highly significant fraction of the patients with IBD displayed up-regulation of DMBT1 specifically in the intestinal epithelial surface cells and Paneth cells. A deletion allele of DMBT1 with a reduced number of scavenger receptor cysteine-rich domain coding exons is associated with an increased risk of CD (P = .00056; odds ratio, 1.75) but not for ulcerative colitis. Dmbt1(-/-) mice display enhanced susceptibility to dextran sulfate sodium-induced colitis and elevated Tnf, Il6, and Nod2 expression levels during inflammation.
Conclusions: DMBT1 may play a role in intestinal mucosal protection and prevention of inflammation. Impaired DMBT1 function may contribute to the pathogenesis of CD.