Background & aims: Interleukin (IL) 4 has immunoregulatory and anti-inflammatory activities, but little is known about IL-4 in the human gut. We investigated production of IL-4 by isolated lamina propria mononuclear cells (LPMCs) from normal and inflamed intestine and its capacity to modulate local immune responses.
Methods: IL-4 levels were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in cultures of control and inflammatory bowel disease LPMCs, and the effect of IL-4 on LPMC proliferation and interaction with IL-2, IL-1 beta, lipopolysaccharide, bacterial antigens, superantigen, and antibodies to various T-cell receptors was investigated.
Results: Various stimuli induced LPMCs to produce IL-4, but inflammatory bowel disease cells expressed IL-4 messenger RNA and secreted protein in significantly lower amounts than control cells. IL-4 failed to stimulate proliferation by fresh LPMCs, but a vigorous dose-dependent response was observed after preactivation by phytohemagglutinin, IL-2, or IL-4. When added to fresh LPMCs, IL-4 inhibited IL-2-induced proliferation. IL-4 amplified proliferation to IL-1 beta, lipopolysaccharide, peptidoglycan-polysaccharide complexes, staphylococcus enterotoxin A, and antibodies to the CD3 and CD28 receptors but not to tetanus toxoid.
Conclusions: Decreased production of IL-4 in inflammatory bowel disease may cause defective immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory mechanisms and may contribute to disease pathogenesis. The ability of IL-4 to differentially modulate LPMC reactivity probably influences mucosal immune homeostasis.