Possible involvement of mucosal-associated invariant T cells in the progression of inflammatory bowel diseases

Biomed Res. 2017;38(2):111-121. doi: 10.2220/biomedres.38.111.


Mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells are innate-like T cells involved in anti-bacterial immunity. Recent studies have demonstrated that MAIT cells might be implicated in inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs), but their precise function in IBD remains to be elucidated. We investigated the possible involvement of MAIT cells in the immunopathogenesis of IBDs. Heparinized peripheral blood and biopsy specimens of the colon were collected from 25 patients with ulcerative colitis (UC), 15 patients with Crohn's disease (CD), and 19 heathy individuals. Lymphocytes were isolated from the blood and colon, and then MAIT cells were analyzed by flow cytometry. The frequency of MAIT cells was significantly lower in the blood of IBD patients compared to healthy donors and significantly higher in the inflamed colons compared to healthy colons (P = 0.001). Among the IBD patients, the frequency of MAIT cells in the blood and colon was correlated with disease activities. In vitro activated MAIT cells from IBD patients secreted significantly more tumor necrosis factor-α and interleukin-17 than those from healthy donors. These findings indicate that MAIT cells are activated in IBD patients, and their accumulation in the inflamed mucosa is correlated with disease activities.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / diagnosis
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / etiology*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / metabolism*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / therapy
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Count
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mucosal-Associated Invariant T Cells / immunology*
  • Mucosal-Associated Invariant T Cells / metabolism*
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Biomarkers
  • Cytokines