T cell transfer model of chronic colitis: concepts, considerations, and tricks of the trade

Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2009 Feb;296(2):G135-46. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.90462.2008. Epub 2008 Nov 25.


The inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn's disease; ulcerative colitis) are idiopathic chronic inflammatory disorders of the intestine and/or colon. A major advancement in our understanding of the pathogenesis of these diseases has been the development of mouse models of chronic gut inflammation. One model that has been instrumental in delineating the immunological mechanisms responsible for the induction as well as regulation of intestinal inflammation is the T cell transfer model of chronic colitis. This paper presents a detailed protocol describing the methods used to induce chronic colitis in mice. Special attention is given to the immunological concepts that explain disease pathogenesis in this model, considerations and potential pitfalls in using this model, and finally different "tricks" that we have learned over the past 12 years that have allowed us to develop a more simplified version of this model of experimental IBD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adoptive Transfer*
  • Animals
  • CD11a Antigen / genetics
  • CD11a Antigen / metabolism
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / transplantation*
  • Cell Separation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chronic Disease
  • Colitis / immunology*
  • Colitis / pathology
  • Colon / immunology*
  • Colon / pathology
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Disease Progression
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / immunology*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / pathology
  • Interleukin-10 / genetics
  • Interleukin-10 / metabolism
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens / analysis
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / transplantation
  • Time Factors


  • CD11a Antigen
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • RAG-1 protein
  • Interleukin-10
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens
  • Ptprc protein, mouse