Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Differential mucosal expression of Th17-related genes between the inflamed colon and ileum of patients with inflammatory bowel disease

Sara Bogaert1, Debby Laukens1, Harald Peeters1, Lode Melis2, Kim Olievier1, Nico Boon3, Gust Verbruggen2, Jo Vandesompele45, Dirk Elewaut2 and Martine De Vos1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Gastroenterology, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium

2 Department of Rheumatology, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium

3 The Laboratory of Microbial Ecology and Technology (LabMET), Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium

4 Center for Medical Genetics, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium

5 Biogazelle, Ghent, Belgium

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BMC Immunology 2010, 11:61  doi:10.1186/1471-2172-11-61

Published: 13 December 2010



Immunological and genetic findings implicate Th17 effector cytokines in the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Expression of Th17 pathway-associated genes is mainly studied in colonic disease. The present study assessed the mRNA expression levels of Th17 effector cytokines (IL17A, IL17F, IL21, IL22 and IL26) and genes involved in differentiation (IL6, IL1B, TGFB1, IL23A and STAT3) and recruitment of Th17 cells (CCR6 and CCL20) by quantitative real-time PCR analysis of colonic and ileal biopsies from 22 healthy control subjects, 26 patients with Crohn's disease (CD) and 12 patients with ulcerative colitis (UC). Inflammation was quantified by measuring expression of the inflammatory mediators IL8 and TNF.


Evaluation of mRNA expression levels in colonic and ileal control samples revealed that TNF, TGFB1, STAT3 and CCR6 were expressed at higher levels in the ileum than in the colon. Expression of all the Th17 pathway-associated genes was increased in inflamed colonic samples. The increased expression of these genes was predominantly observed in samples from UC patients and was associated with more intense inflammation. Although increased expression of IL17A, IL17F, IL21 and IL26 was detected in inflamed ileal samples, expression of the indispensable Th17 cell differentiation factors TGFB1 and IL23A, the signaling molecule STAT3 and the Th17 recruitment factors CCR6 and CCL20 were unchanged.


Our findings suggest that immune regulation is different in colonic and ileal disease, which might have important consequences for therapeutic intervention.