Role of cytokines in inflammatory bowel disease

World J Gastroenterol. 2008 Jul 21;14(27):4280-8. doi: 10.3748/wjg.14.4280.


Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which includes Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC), represents a group of chronic disorders characterized by inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, typically with a relapsing and remitting clinical course. Mucosal macrophages play an important role in the mucosal immune system, and an increase in the number of newly recruited monocytes and activated macrophages has been noted in the inflamed gut of patients with IBD. Activated macrophages are thought to be major contributors to the production of inflammatory cytokines in the gut, and imbalance of cytokines is contributing to the pathogenesis of IBD. The intestinal inflammation in IBD is controlled by a complex interplay of innate and adaptive immune mechanisms. Cytokines play a key role in IBD that determine T cell differentiation of Th1, Th2, T regulatory and newly described Th17 cells. Cytokines levels in time and space orchestrate the development, recurrence and exacerbation of the inflammatory process in IBD. Therefore, several cytokine therapies have been developed and tested for the treatment of IBD patients.

Publication types

  • Editorial
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Line
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / metabolism*
  • Interleukin-10 / metabolism
  • Interleukin-17 / metabolism
  • Interleukin-18 / metabolism
  • Interleukin-4 / metabolism
  • Interleukins / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Monocytes / cytology
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism


  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-17
  • Interleukin-18
  • Interleukins
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Interleukin-10
  • Interleukin-4
  • interleukin-21