Adequacy of mucosal biopsies for evaluation of intestinal cytokine-specific mRNA. Comparative study of RT-PCR in biopsies and isolated cells from normal and inflamed intestine

Dig Dis Sci. 1995 Jul;40(7):1498-505. doi: 10.1007/BF02285198.


Endoscopic biopsies are being increasingly utilized to investigate cytokine profiles in normal and diseased intestine. To evaluate the adequacy of mucosal biopsies as a source of cytokine-specific mRNA, we measured their content of interleukin-1 beta (IL-1 beta) and interleukin-2 (IL-2) mRNA by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and compared it to that of autologous lamina propria mononuclear cells in control and inflammatory bowel disease-involved specimens. High-quality total RNA was recovered more consistently from cell isolates than from biopsies. Interleukin-1 beta mRNA was reliably detected in both cell and biopsy samples, whereas IL-2 mRNA was measurable in all lamina propria cells but not always in biopsies. Compared to controls, levels of IL-1 beta were significantly elevated in Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis cells and biopsies, and a weak but significant correlation existed between values derived from the two sources. In contrast, only ulcerative colitis cell isolates but not biopsies contained significantly reduced concentrations of IL-2 mRNA compared to those of control and Crohn's disease samples, and no correlation was found between cell and biopsy contents. Widely different levels of cytokine-specific mRNA were present in closely adjacent biopsies, particularly for IL-2. These results suggest that mucosal biopsies are suitable to assess some but not all cytokine-specific mRNA due to variation in RNA recovery, intrinsic level of cytokine gene expression, and substantial variability of cytokine transcripts.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biopsy*
  • Colitis / pathology
  • Cytokines / genetics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-1 / genetics
  • Interleukin-2 / genetics
  • Intestinal Mucosa / chemistry*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / cytology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction*
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis*
  • RNA-Directed DNA Polymerase


  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-1
  • Interleukin-2
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA-Directed DNA Polymerase