The role of glycosylation in IBD

Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2014 Oct;11(10):588-600. doi: 10.1038/nrgastro.2014.78. Epub 2014 Jun 10.


A number of genetic and immunological studies give impetus for investigating the role of glycosylation in IBD. Experimental mouse models have helped to delineate the role of glycosylation in intestinal mucins and to explore the putative pathogenic role of glycosylation in colitis. These experiments have been extended to human studies investigating the glycosylation patterns of intestinal mucins as well as levels of glycans of serum glycoproteins and expression of glycan receptors. These early human studies have generated interesting hypotheses regarding the pathogenic role of glycans in IBD, but have generally been restricted to fairly small underpowered studies. Decreased glycosylation has been observed in the intestinal mucus of patients with IBD, suggesting that a defective inner mucus layer might lead to increased bacterial contact with the epithelium, potentially triggering inflammation. In sera, decreased galactosylation of IgG has been suggested as a diagnostic marker for IBD. Advances in glycoprofiling technology make it technically feasible and affordable to perform high-throughput glycan pattern analyses and to build on previous work investigating a much wider range of glycan parameters in large numbers of patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Galactose / metabolism
  • Glycosylation*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / metabolism
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / metabolism*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Mucins / metabolism*
  • Mucus / metabolism
  • Polysaccharides / metabolism*


  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Mucins
  • Polysaccharides
  • Galactose