Background & aims: Transcription factors of the nuclear factor kappaB (NF-kappaB) family play an important role in the regulation of genes involved in inflammation. In inflammatory bowel diseases, proinflammatory cytokines known to be regulated by NF-kappaB are involved. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of NF-kappaB activation during mucosal inflammation in situ.
Methods: A monoclonal antibody, alpha-p65mAb, was applied for immunofluorescence and immunohistochemical analysis that recognizes activated NF-kappaB. Electrophoretic mobility shift assay was used to directly demonstrate the presence of active DNA-binding NF-kappaB.
Results: Using the alpha-p65mAb antibody, activated NF-kappaB could be found in biopsy specimens from inflamed mucosa but was almost absent in uninflamed mucosa. The number of cells showing NF-kappaB activation correlated with the degree of mucosal inflammation but was not significantly different between inflamed mucosa from patients with Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and nonspecific colitis or diverticulitis. NF-kappaB activation was localized in macrophages and in epithelial cells as identified by double-labeling techniques. Electrophoretic mobility shift assay with isolated lamina propria mononuclear cells and epithelial cells confirmed these results.
Conclusions: This study shows for the first time the activation of NF-kappaB during human mucosal inflammation in situ. In addition to macrophages, epithelial cells contained activated NF-kappaB, indicating an involvement in the inflammatory process.