T cell-associated α4β7 but not α4β1 integrin is required for the induction and perpetuation of chronic colitis

Mucosal Immunol. 2014 Nov;7(6):1354-65. doi: 10.1038/mi.2014.22. Epub 2014 Apr 9.


Anti-adhesion therapies that target α(4) integrins (e.g., natalizumab) are thought to work by blocking T-cell recruitment to the intestinal tissues in patients with Crohn's disease (CD); however, little direct evidence is available to confirm this contention. We wished to evaluate the importance of T cell-associated α(4) integrins in a chronic colitis model in mice and to determine the effect of natalizumab treatment on intestinal tissue T-cell accumulation in human CD. Adoptive transfer of T cells lacking α(4) (α(4)(-/-)) but not β(1) integrin into immunodeficient mice produced significantly attenuated disease. This was correlated with reduced numbers of colon CD4 T cells compared with the control mice; however, tissue distribution of T helper type 1 (Th1) and T helper type 17 (Th17) cells and regulatory T cells (Tregs) was not affected by the lack of α(4). Furthermore, α(4)(-/-) T cells demonstrated defective homing to the chronically inflamed small intestines and colons. Finally, patients treated with natalizumab showed significant reduction in mucosal CD4 T cells and no skewing in the foxp3(+) Treg or T-bet(+)Th1 fractions thereof. These results demonstrate a direct role for T cell-associated α(4)β(7) but not α(4)β(1) integrins during initiation and perpetuation of chronic colitis. Moreover, our data demonstrated that natalizumab treatment reduced mucosal CD4 T-cell accumulation in CD patients.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adoptive Transfer
  • Animals
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / pathology
  • Chronic Disease
  • Crohn Disease / genetics
  • Crohn Disease / immunology*
  • Crohn Disease / pathology
  • Humans
  • Integrin alpha4beta1 / genetics
  • Integrin alpha4beta1 / immunology*
  • Integrin beta Chains / genetics
  • Integrin beta Chains / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout


  • Integrin alpha4beta1
  • Integrin beta Chains
  • integrin beta7