Background & aims: Activation of lamina propria T cells with pokeweed mitogen in human fetal gut explant cultures results in severe mucosal injury. In the same system, Staphylococcus aureus enterotoxin B produces villus atrophy and crypt cell hyperplasia. The aim of this study was to examine the ability of interleukin (IL)-10 to modify these changes.
Methods: Mucosal pathology and lamina propria glycosaminoglycans were assessed histologically, and CD3(+), CD25(+) and alpha-actin smooth muscle-positive cells were determined by immunohistochemistry. Reverse plaque assays and quantitative reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction were used to analyze the cytokine response. Matrix metalloproteinase production was analyzed by Western blotting, in situ hybridization, and zymography.
Results: Both experimental enteropathies produced mucosal damage, although injury was greater after pokeweed mitogen activation than S. aureus enterotoxin B. In both cases, the increase in cytokine-secreting cells and transcripts observed after T-cell activation was inhibited by IL-10. IL-10 also inhibited the increase in collagenase and stromelysin-1 in the explant culture supernatants and the loss of glycosaminoglycans. IL-10 decreased metalloproteinase production in control explants and increased matrix. In mesenchymal cells, IL-10 had a minor effect on metalloproteinase production.
Conclusions: IL-10 down-regulates mucosal T-cell activation, metalloproteinase production, and loss of extracellular matrix and prevents mucosal damage in the gut.