Chronic experimental colitis induced by dextran sulphate sodium (DSS) is characterized by Th1 and Th2 cytokines

Clin Exp Immunol. 1998 Dec;114(3):385-91. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2249.1998.00728.x.


Oral administration of DSS has been reported to induce an acute and chronic colitis in mice. The aim of our study was to evaluate if the chronic phase of DSS-induced colitis was characterized by a Th1/Th2 response and how this would relate to mucosal regeneration. Swiss Webster mice were fed 5% DSS in their drinking water for 7 days, followed by 2-5 weeks consumption of water. Control mice received only water. The animals were killed at 3 and 6 weeks after induction. Their colons were isolated for histology and immunohistochemistry, using specific MoAbs for T and B cells, macrophages, interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma), IL-4 and IL-5. Colons were scored for inflammation, damage and regeneration. Two weeks after stopping DSS the colonic epithelium had only partially healed. Total colitis scores were still increased, especially in the distal colon, which was due to more inflammation, damage and less regeneration. In areas of incomplete colonic healing the basal parts of the lamina propria contained macrophages and CD4+ T cells. These CD4+ T cells showed a focal increase of IFN-gamma and IL-4 staining compared with control animals. These findings were still observed 5 weeks after stopping DSS in some mice, albeit less extensive. Chronic DSS-induced colitis is characterized by focal epithelial regeneration and a Th1 as well as Th2 cytokine profile. We postulate that chronic immune activation mediated by both populations of Th cells can interfere with colonic healing and can play a role in the pathogenesis of chronic colitis.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chronic Disease
  • Colitis / chemically induced
  • Colitis / immunology*
  • Colitis / pathology
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Dextran Sulfate
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Interleukin-4 / metabolism
  • Interleukin-5 / metabolism
  • Lymphocytes
  • Mice
  • Th1 Cells / immunology*
  • Th2 Cells / immunology*


  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-5
  • Interleukin-4
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Dextran Sulfate