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#25371082   2014/12/08 Save this To Up

Interleukin‑21 promotes the development of ulcerative colitis and regulates the proliferation and secretion of follicular T helper cells in the colitides microenvironment.

Patients with ulcerative colitis (UC) are at increased risk of developing colitis‑associated colon cancer. Previous studies have indicated that interleukin (IL)‑21, which is predominantly secreted by follicular T helper (Tfh) cells, is overproduced in inflammatory bowel diseases. In order to investigate the role of IL‑21 in UC and the association between IL‑21 and Tfh cells, the number of Tfh cells and the level of IL‑21 were investigated in colonic tissues from UC patients and wild‑type (WT) mice, which were induced by dextran sulphate sodium (DSS). High Tfh cell counts and levels of IL‑21 were observed in UC patients and WT mice with DSS‑induced colitis. Subsequent comparison of the mucosal damage and expression of Tfh‑associated cytokines in the WT mice and IL‑21 knockout (IL‑21KO) mice following DSS administration, revealed that IL‑21KO mice were largely protected against colitis and exhibited reduced infiltration of Tfh cells, as well as decreased production of Tfh‑associated cytokines. The present study also found that IL‑21 was necessary for the proliferation and secretion of Tfh cells in vitro. In addition, neutralization of IL‑21 in DSS‑administered WT mice using anti‑IL‑21 reduced the number of Tfh cells and the level of mucosal damage. Administration of a neutralizing IL‑21 antibody decreased the colonic infiltration of Tfh cells and reduced damage to the mucosa. These results indicated that Tfh cells are important in UC and that its effector molecule, IL‑21, is not only a critical regulator of inflammation, but also regulates the proliferation and response of Tfh cells in the colitis microenvironment.

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