Tumour necrosis factor-alpha and interferon-gamma production measured at the single cell level in normal and inflamed human intestine

Clin Exp Immunol. 1990 Aug;81(2):301-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2249.1990.tb03334.x.


The spot-ELISA technique has been used to enumerate the frequency of cells secreting tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma), isolated from biopsies of normal intestine and from biopsies of children with inflammatory bowel disease. TNF-alpha production was undetectable in six out of 12 biopsies from normal intestine and in the other six biopsies it ranged from 60 to 580 TNF-alpha-secreting cells/10(6) isolated intestinal cells. In contrast, cells isolated from biopsies of children with Crohn's disease (n = 9) all showed elevated frequencies of TNF-alpha-secreting cells (500-12,000 secreting cells/10(6) cells). In ulcerative colitis, four out of eight children had increased production of TNF-alpha and in children with indeterminate colitis two out of three had elevated levels. There was no correlation between plasma TNF-alpha levels and the number of intestinal cells secreting TNF-alpha. In controls and all groups of patients IFN-gamma-secreting cells were uncommon. These results suggest that TNF-alpha is an important mediator of inflammation in the human gut, and, furthermore, may play a role in the growth failure frequently seen in children with inflammatory bowel disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Biopsy
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / immunology
  • Crohn Disease / immunology
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / immunology
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology
  • Intestines / immunology*
  • Intestines / pathology
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / metabolism
  • Male
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / biosynthesis*


  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Interferon-gamma