Background: Increasing evidence points to a pathologic role for cytokines in Crohn's colitis. Levels of cytokines are increased in diseased segments of colon in Crohn's colitis, but no one has studied the concentration of cytokines in clinically and histologically nondiseased segments.
Methods: Mucosal biopsies were obtained from 7 patients with active segmental Crohn's colitis and from 7 controls without inflammatory bowel disease. The concentration of Interleukin (IL)-1 beta, IL-2, IL-6, and IL-8 in patients and controls were determined using enzyme linked immunosorbent assay and compared. Histologic sections were also performed to confirm diseased and nondiseased segments of colon.
Results: The concentrations of IL-1 beta, IL-6, and IL-8 were significantly higher in the involved segments of colon (10.3 +/- 4.1, 3.7 +/- 1.0, 34.4 +/- 6.9 picograms [pg] per mg) when compared to controls (1.8 +/- 0.5, 1.1 +/- 0.5, 5.3 +/- 1.0 pg/mg). The concentrations of IL-1 beta, IL-2, and IL-8 (8.5 +/- 2.9, 5.3 +/- 1.2, 26.3 +/- 8.8 pg/mg) in normal appearing segments of colon of patients with Crohn's colitis were also significantly higher than in controls, whose IL-2 level was 2.0 +/- 0.5 pg/mg. IL-1 beta and IL-8 were significantly more concentrated in both the involved and uninvolved colonic segments of patients with Crohn's colitis compared to controls. IL-2 and IL-6 were also more concentrated in Crohn's patients than in controls, but not significantly. The differences in interleukin concentrations between involved and uninvolved segments of colon in patients with segmental Crohn's colitis were not significant.
Conclusions: Although Crohn's colitis is often a segmental disease, concentrations of IL-1 beta and IL-8 are increased throughout the entire colon. These observations reinforce the hypothesis that Crohn's colitis involves the whole colon even when this is not apparent clinically or histologically.