J Crohns Colitis 2017 May;11(5):603-609
Department of Systems Medicine, University of Rome 'Tor Vergata', Rome, Italy.
Background And Aims: The chemokine CCL20 is over-produced in epithelium of Crohn's disease [CD] patients and contributes to recruiting immune cells to inflamed gut. Tumour necrosis factor-α [TNF-α] is a powerful inducer of CCL20 in intestinal epithelial cells. In CD, high levels of Smad7 block the activity of transforming growth factor-β1 [TGF-β1], a negative regulator of TNF signalling. We investigated whether intestinal epithelial cell-derived CCL20 is negatively regulated by TGF-β1 and whether Smad7 knock-down reduces CCL20 in CD.
Methods: CCL20 was evaluated in NCM460, a normal colonic epithelial cell line, stimulated with TGF-β1 and TNF-α, and in Smad7 over-expressing NCM460 cells. CCL20 and Smad7 expression were assessed in sections of CD intestinal specimens by immunochemistry, and in CD colonic explants treated with mongersen, a Smad7 antisense oligonucleotide. CCL20 was examined in serum samples taken from 95 of 166 active CD patients receiving mongersen or placebo for 2 weeks and participating in a phase II, multicentre, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.
Results: CCL20 expression was increased by TNF-α, and this effect was inhibited by TGF-β1 in NCM460 cells, but not in Smad7 over-expressing NCM460 cells. In CD, epithelium CCL20 and Smad7 co-localised, and treatment of CD explants with mongersen reduced CCL20 production. During follow-up, in responders to mongersen, serum CCL20 levels significantly decreased, whereas patients without response/remission to mongersen and placebo patients did not have change in CCL20.
Conclusions: TGF-β1 reduces intestinal epithelial cell-derived CCL20 production, an effect abrogated by Smad7. CD patients responding to mongersen demonstrated a reduction in serum CCL20.