Limited Impact of 6-Mercaptopurine on Inflammation-Induced Chemokines Expression Profile in Primary Cultures of Enteric Nervous System

Neurochem Res. 2021 Jul;46(7):1781-1793. doi: 10.1007/s11064-021-03324-y. Epub 2021 Apr 16.


Increasing evidences indicate that the enteric nervous system (ENS) and enteric glial cells (EGC) play important regulatory roles in intestinal inflammation. Mercaptopurine (6-MP) is a cytostatic compound clinically used for the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. However, potential impacts of 6-MP on ENS response to inflammation have not been evaluated yet. In this study, we aimed to gain deeper insights into the profile of inflammatory mediators expressed by the ENS and on the potential anti-inflammatory impact of 6-MP in this context. Genome-wide expression analyses were performed on ENS primary cultures exposed to lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and 6-MP alone or in combination. Differential expression of main hits was validated by quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) using a cell line for EGC. ENS cells expressed a broad spectrum of cytokines and chemokines of the C-X-C motif ligand (CXCL) family under inflammatory stress. Induction of Cxcl5 and Cxcl10 by inflammatory stimuli was confirmed in EGC. Inflammation-induced protein secretion of TNF-α and Cxcl5 was partly inhibited by 6-MP in ENS primary cultures but not in EGC. Further work is required to identify the cellular mechanisms involved in this regulation. These findings extend our knowledge of the anti-inflammatory properties of 6-MP related to the ENS and in particular of the EGC-response to inflammatory stimuli.

Keywords: 6-Mercaptopurine; CXC motif ligand chemokines; Enteric glial cells; Enteric nervous system; Inflammatory bowel diseases.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Enteric Nervous System / cytology
  • Gene Expression / drug effects*
  • Inflammation / chemically induced
  • Interleukin-1beta / genetics*
  • Interleukin-1beta / metabolism
  • Interleukin-1beta / pharmacology
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Mercaptopurine / pharmacology*
  • Mice
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Rats
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / genetics*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / pharmacology


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • IL1B protein, mouse
  • IL1B protein, rat
  • Interleukin-1beta
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Mercaptopurine