Luminal cathepsin g and protease-activated receptor 4: a duet involved in alterations of the colonic epithelial barrier in ulcerative colitis

Am J Pathol. 2009 Jul;175(1):207-14. doi: 10.2353/ajpath.2009.080986. Epub 2009 Jun 15.


Impairment of the colonic epithelial barrier and neutrophil infiltration are common features of inflammatory bowel disease. Luminal proteases affect colonic permeability through protease-activated receptors (PARs). We evaluated: (i) whether fecal supernatants from patients with ulcerative colitis (UC) trigger alterations of colonic paracellular permeability and inflammation, and (ii) the roles of cathepsin G (Cat-G), a neutrophil serine protease, and its selective receptor, PAR(4), in these processes. Expression levels of both PAR(4) and Cat-G were determined in colonic biopsies from UC and healthy subjects. The effects of UC fecal supernatants on colonic paracellular permeability were measured in murine colonic strips. Involvement of Cat-G and PAR(4) was evaluated using pepducin P4pal-10 and specific Cat-G inhibitor (SCGI), respectively. In addition, the effect of PAR(4)-activating peptide was assessed. UC fecal supernatants, either untreated or pretreated with SCGI, were infused into mice, and myeloperoxidase activity was determined. PAR(4) was found to be overexpressed in UC colonic biopsies. Increased colonic paracellular permeability that was triggered by UC fecal supernatants was blocked by both SCGI (77%) and P4pal-10 (85%). Intracolonic infusion of UC fecal supernatants into mice increased myeloperoxidase activity. This effect was abolished by SCGI. These observations support that both Cat-G and PAR(4) play key roles in generating and/or amplifying relapses in UC and provide a rationale for the development of new therapeutic agents in the treatment of this disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cathepsin G
  • Cathepsins / metabolism*
  • Cell Membrane Permeability / physiology
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / metabolism*
  • Feces / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Middle Aged
  • Receptors, Thrombin / metabolism*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Serine Endopeptidases / metabolism*


  • Receptors, Thrombin
  • Cathepsins
  • Serine Endopeptidases
  • CTSG protein, human
  • Cathepsin G
  • Ctsg protein, mouse
  • protease-activated receptor 4