Leptin Downregulates Angulin-1 in Active Crohn's Disease via STAT3

Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Oct 22;21(21):7824. doi: 10.3390/ijms21217824.


Crohn's disease (CD) has an altered intestinal barrier function, yet the underlying mechanisms remain to be disclosed. The tricellular tight junction protein tricellulin is involved in the maintenance of the paracellular macromolecule barrier and features an unchanged expression level in CD but a shifted localization. As angulins are known to regulate the localization of tricellulin, we hypothesized the involvement of angulins in CD. Using human biopsies, we found angulin-1 was downregulated in active CD compared with both controls and CD in remission. In T84 and Caco-2 monolayers, leptin, a cytokine secreted by fat tissue and affected in CD, decreased angulin-1 expression. This effect was completely blocked by STAT3 inhibitors, Stattic and WP1066, but only partially by JAK2 inhibitor AG490. The effect of leptin was also seen at a functional level as we observed in Caco-2 cells an increased permeability for FITC-dextran 4 kDa indicating an impaired barrier against macromolecule uptake. In conclusion, we were able to show that in active CD angulin-1 expression is downregulated, which leads to increased macromolecule permeability and is inducible by leptin via STAT3. This suggests that angulin-1 and leptin secretion are potential targets for intervention in CD to restore the impaired intestinal barrier.

Keywords: Crohn’s disease; angulin-1; leptin; tight junction.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biopsy
  • Caco-2 Cells
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Crohn Disease / metabolism*
  • Cyclic S-Oxides / pharmacology
  • Down-Regulation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology
  • Leptin / metabolism*
  • Leptin / pharmacology
  • MARVEL Domain Containing 2 Protein / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pyridines / pharmacology
  • Receptors, Lipoprotein / metabolism*
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor / antagonists & inhibitors
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor / metabolism*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Tyrphostins / pharmacology
  • Young Adult


  • Cyclic S-Oxides
  • LSR protein, human
  • Leptin
  • MARVEL Domain Containing 2 Protein
  • MARVELD2 protein, human
  • Pyridines
  • Receptors, Lipoprotein
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • STAT3 protein, human
  • Transcription Factors
  • Tyrphostins
  • WP1066
  • alpha-cyano-(3,4-dihydroxy)-N-benzylcinnamide
  • stattic