Transcriptional regulation of chemokine network by biologic monotherapy in ileum of patients with Crohn's disease

Biomed Pharmacother. 2022 Mar:147:112653. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2022.112653. Epub 2022 Jan 22.


Background: Crohn's disease (CD) exacerbation is marked by an intense cellular trafficking. We set out to determine the specific impact of biologic therapies on regulating chemokine network gene expression in healthy, mildly and severely inflamed tissue of CD patients.

Methods: Twenty CD patients on biologics (adalimumab, ustekinumab, vedolizumab) or untreated undergoing colonoscopy due to clinical symptoms of flare. Healthy, mildly and severely inflamed ileum biopsies from each patient were collected. Chemokines and receptors gene expression was analyzed and a STRING analysis for functional enrichment was performed.

Results: The chemokine network exhibited wide transcriptional differences among tissues in active untreated patients, whereas all biologic treatments reduced these differences and homogenized their transcriptional activity. In mildly inflamed tissue, all treatments showed gene upregulation while ustekinumab additionally maintained the downregulation of genes such as CCL2, CCL3, CCL17 or CCL23, involved in T cell chemotaxis, inflammatory monocyte and NK trafficking. In severely inflamed tissue, all treatments shared a downregulatory effect on chemokines controlling T cell response (i.e. CXCL16, CXCR3). Adalimumab and vedolizumab significantly reduced the expression of genes promoting antigen presentation by DCs and the initiation of leukocyte extravasation (i.e. CXCL12, CCL25, CCR7). Ustekinumab significantly reduced genes positively regulating Th1 cytokine production and IL-8 mediated signaling (i.e. IL1B, XCL1, CXCR1, CXCR2).

Conclusion: Biologic therapies differentially target the chemokine network gene expression profile in the ileal tissue of active CD patients. These results may contribute to better understanding cell homing and to defining future personalized therapeutic strategies for CD patients.

Keywords: Biologic treatment; Chemokines; Crohn’s disease; Inflammation.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adalimumab / pharmacology
  • Adalimumab / therapeutic use
  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / pharmacology
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / therapeutic use
  • Biological Products / pharmacology
  • Biological Products / therapeutic use*
  • Chemokines / metabolism*
  • Chemotaxis / drug effects
  • Crohn Disease / drug therapy*
  • Crohn Disease / genetics
  • Crohn Disease / pathology*
  • Down-Regulation
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Ileum / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Monocytes / drug effects
  • Patient Acuity
  • Prospective Studies
  • RNA, Messenger / drug effects
  • Receptors, Chemokine / genetics
  • Receptors, Chemokine / metabolism*
  • Ustekinumab / pharmacology
  • Ustekinumab / therapeutic use


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Biological Products
  • Chemokines
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Chemokine
  • vedolizumab
  • Ustekinumab
  • Adalimumab