Background: Ulcerative colitis (UC) is widely viewed as a leukocyte-mediated disorder. Although strong evidence implicates an exuberant response to microbial components in its pathogenesis, no intrinsic immune defect has been identified and the underlying pathogenic mechanisms remain obscure.
Methodology/principal findings: The acute immune response to bacterial injection was determined in UC patients with quiescent disease and directly compared to healthy control subjects. Monocyte-derived macrophages were used to investigate bacterial recognition mechanisms in vitro. An exuberant and protracted acute inflammatory response to bacteria was evident in patients with UC, which coincides with increased systemic levels of CXCL10. Macrophages stimulated with bacteria and Toll-like receptor (TLR) ligands revealed a specific defect in the TLR4 response in UC. The defect resulted in the over-expression of a number of pro-inflammatory molecules under transcriptional control of the adaptor TIR-domain containing adaptor inducing interferon-beta (TRIF).
Conclusion: These findings highlight a dysregulated innate immune response with over-expression of molecules associated with leukocyte recruitment and activation that may eventuate in the hallmark chronic immune-mediated inflammation of UC.