Bowel permeability and CD45RO expression on circulating CD20+ B cells in patients with ankylosing spondylitis and their relatives

J Rheumatol. 1999 Jan;26(1):128-35.


Objective: Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is reportedly associated with subclinical endoscopic gut inflammation in up to 57% of patients. Studies of bowel permeability, however, have not consistently revealed abnormalities in these patients. CD20+CD45RO+ expression is associated with increased antigen exposure, and previous work has shown increased expression in this B cell isoform in patients with Crohn's disease and their relatives, correlating with intestinal permeability abnormalities. We sought to re-examine intestinal permeability in patients with AS and their relatives, and relate any observed alterations in permeability with evidence of increased antigen presentation as assessed by the number of circulating B cells that were CD45RO positive.

Methods: We studied small intestinal and gastric permeability by measurement of excretion of lactulose, mannitol, and sucrose in 60 patients with AS and 24 of their first-degree relatives. We also studied expression of CD20+CD45RO+ by flow cytometry in these patients.

Results: Both patients and first-degree relatives had significantly increased small intestinal, but not gastric, permeability compared to controls. Among patients, current users of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) had significantly increased small intestinal permeability compared to nonusers, but relatives not using NSAID also had increased permeability. CD20+CD45RO+ expression was increased in one-third of patients but did not correlate with permeability abnormalities.

Conclusion: Patients with AS have altered small intestinal, but not gastric, permeability. NSAID use cannot explain all the abnormality. Bowel permeability abnormalities, possibly genetically determined, may antedate development of bowel or joint symptoms. Increased CD20+CD45RO+ expression suggests increased antigen exposure, which may be related to previous or current intestinal permeability abnormalities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacokinetics
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology
  • Antigens, CD20 / immunology
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • B-Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Lactulose / metabolism
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens / biosynthesis*
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens / immunology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Permeability / drug effects
  • Spondylitis, Ankylosing / genetics
  • Spondylitis, Ankylosing / immunology*
  • Spondylitis, Ankylosing / metabolism
  • Sucrose / metabolism


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Antigens, CD20
  • Lactulose
  • Sucrose
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens