Semisynthetic Diet Ameliorates Crohn's Disease-Like Ileitis in TNFΔARE/WT Mice Through Antigen-Independent Mechanisms of Gluten

Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2013 May;19(6):1285-94. doi: 10.1097/MIB.0b013e318281f573.


Background: Enteral nutrition is used to treat a subset of patients with inflammatory bowel diseases. Because dietary factors may contribute to an aggressive immune response toward the intestinal microbiota in the disease susceptible host, we used TNFΔARE/WT mice to study the therapeutic effect of a semisynthetic experimental diet in the pathogenesis of Crohn's disease (CD)-like inflammation in the ileum.

Methods: TNFΔARE/WT mice were fed chow and experimental diets partially fortified with gluten in a dose and time-dependent manner. Histopathology, markers of inflammation, intraepithelial lymphocytes phenotypes, and antigen-specific reactivation of CD4⁺ T cells were determined.

Results: TNFΔARE/WT mice being transferred to an experimental diet with 7 but not with 10 or 14 weeks of age were protected from development of Crohn's disease-like ileitis. Although disease-related CD8αβ⁺ intraepithelial lymphocytes were increased irrespective of dietary intervention, the protective effect of experimental diet was associated with decreased expression of inflammation markers in ileal tissues. In addition, CD4⁺ T-cell reactivation in bacterial antigen-primed dendritic cell cocultures was not altered between semisynthetic and chow diet-fed TNFΔARE/WT mice, suggesting bacteria-independent mechanisms. Most importantly, gluten-fortified experimental diet induced chronic ileitis in TNFΔARE/WT mice, despite the fact that gluten-derived peptides failed to induce CD4⁺ T-cell activation. Reduced occludin expression levels suggest a negative role of gluten-fortified experimental diet on intestinal barrier integrity.

Conclusions: Crohn's disease-like ileitis can be prevented at early stages of disease development using a semisynthetic experimental diet. Gluten was identified as antigen-independent dietary factor relevant for the induction of chronic inflammation in the small intestine of TNFΔARE/WT mice.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens / adverse effects*
  • Antigens / immunology
  • Blotting, Western
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / pathology
  • Crohn Disease / etiology
  • Crohn Disease / pathology
  • Crohn Disease / prevention & control*
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Dendritic Cells / metabolism
  • Dendritic Cells / pathology
  • Diet*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Glutens / adverse effects*
  • Heterozygote
  • Ileitis / etiology
  • Ileitis / pathology
  • Ileitis / prevention & control*
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / genetics*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism


  • Antigens
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Glutens