In situ expression of interleukin-10 in noninflamed human gut and in inflammatory bowel disease

Am J Pathol. 1998 Jul;153(1):121-30. doi: 10.1016/S0002-9440(10)65552-6.


A dysregulated secretion of contra-inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-10 (IL-10) could play a role in the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). We have investigated the expression of IL-10 in gut tissues from patients with Crohn's disease (CD), ulcerative colitis (UC) and controls by mRNA in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry. Intestinal epithelial cells were found to express IL-10 mRNA and IL-10 protein in all of the tissues investigated without any major differences in the expression patterns. However, compared with noninflamed gut, significantly increased numbers of mononuclear cells (MNCs) producing IL-10 were present in inflamed gut, both in CD and UC. This cytokine was expressed most prominently by inflammatory infiltrates enriched in macrophages, although T cells seem to contribute to its production as well. Elevated IL-10 expression in IBD was mainly detected in the submucosa, whereas IL-10 production by lamina propria cells remained comparably low. In contrast, the expression of IL-1beta mRNA was preferentially increased in the lamina propria. Our data argue against a general deficiency in IL-10 production in IBD. The results suggest rather that the local production of IL-10 by mucosal MNCs in IBD is insufficient to down-regulate pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-1beta in the lamina propria compartment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / immunology*
  • Interleukin-1 / metabolism
  • Interleukin-10 / metabolism*
  • Intestinal Diseases / immunology
  • Intestines / immunology*
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis


  • Interleukin-1
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Interleukin-10