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Open Access Research article

Transcript levels of different cytokines and chemokines correlate with clinical and endoscopic activity in ulcerative colitis

Alexandra Zahn1*, Thomas Giese2, Max Karner1, Annika Braun1, Ulf Hinz3, Wolfgang Stremmel1 and Robert Ehehalt1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Gastroenterology, University Hospital Heidelberg, Im Neuenheimer Feld 410, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany

2 Institute of Immunology, University Heidelberg, Im Neuenheimer Feld 305, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany

3 Unit for Documentation and Statistics of the Department of Surgery, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany

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BMC Gastroenterology 2009, 9:13  doi:10.1186/1471-230X-9-13

Published: 9 February 2009

Abstract

Background

A definition of disease activity in ulcerative colitis (UC) is difficult. The clinical activity index (CAI) is only an indirect assessment tool of bowel inflammation and the endoscopic activity index (EAI) sometimes cannot reflect the severity of disease to the full extent. Therefore, there is a need for an objective means to quantify inflammatory activity in mucosal biopsies. In our study, we wanted to examine the correlation between transcript levels of interleukin 8 (CXCL8), interferon γ inducible protein 10 (CXCL10), myeloid-related protein 14 (calgranulin B), macrophage inflammatory protein 2 α (CXCL2) with CAI and EAI in UC.

Methods

Cytokine and chemokine transcripts were quantified using real-time PCR in 49 mucosal biopsies from 27 different patients with UC. Cytokine transcript levels were correlated with CAI and EAI.

Results

There was a statistically significant positive correlation between CXCL8 (r = 0.30; p < 0.05), CXCL10 (r = 0.40; p < 0.02), calgranulin B (r = 0.36; p < 0.03), CXCL2 (r = 0.31; p < 0.05) and CAI. Concerning EAI significant positive correlations for CXCL8 (r = 0.37; p < 0.02), CXCL10 (r = 0.33; p < 0.04), calgranulin B (r = 0.31; p < 0.05) and CXCL2 (r = 0.44; p < 0.05) were found. Low clinical and endoscopic activity was accompanied by low cytokine levels whereas high CAI and EAI were associated with high cytokine levels.

Conclusion

From our data, we conclude that real-time PCR quantification of CXCL8, CXCL10, calgranulin B and CXCL2 in colonic biopsies is a simple and objective method for grading inflammation of intestinal mucosa in UC. CXCL8, CXCL10, calgranulin B and CXCL2 might be used as biomarkers and thus as an objective tool especially in clinical trials to evaluate anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory regimens.