Immune response and inflammatory pathway of ulcerative colitis

J Basic Clin Physiol Pharmacol. 2018 Dec 19;30(1):1-10. doi: 10.1515/jbcpp-2018-0036.


Ulcerative colitis (UC) is an idiopathic relapsing inflammatory disease. Although the etiology of UC remains unclear, it could be characterized by inflammation of the intestinal mucosa, starting from the rectum and potentially involving the entire colon. The immune response and inflammatory pathway of UC have shown that tissue damage is driven by dynamic and complexes of cells and cytokines. Various types of cells, including antigen-presenting cells (dendritic cells and macrophages), T helper cells, regulatory T cells, and natural killer T cells, play a crucial role in UC pathogenesis by regulation, suppression, and maintenance of inflammation. Moreover, cytokine networks become an important part due to their signaling function, which is indispensable for cell communication. Pro-inflammatory cytokines [tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin (IL)-1, IL-6, IL-9, IL-13, and IL-33] play significant roles in upregulation, while anti-inflammatory cytokines (transforming growth factor-β, IL-10, and IL-37) play significant roles in downregulation of disease progression. The pathogenesis of UC consists of immuno-inflammatory pathways related to the multiple components of the intestine, including the epithelial barrier, commensal microflora, antigen recognition, dysregulation of immunological responses, leukocyte recruitment, and genetic factors. The understanding of immuno-inflammatory pathways of UC might lead to the development of a specific therapy and/or a novel treatment that could be more efficient.

Keywords: cytokines; lymphocyte; pathogenesis; ulcerative colitis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / immunology*
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / metabolism
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular / physiology*
  • Inflammation Mediators / immunology*
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / metabolism


  • Inflammation Mediators