J Crohns Colitis 2019 May;13(6):772-784
Department of Systems Medicine, University of 'Tor Vergata', Rome, Italy.
Background And Aims: In ulcerative colitis [UC], mucosal damage occurs in areas that are infiltrated with neutrophils. The antimicrobial function of neutrophils relies in part on the formation of extracellular web-like structures, named neutrophil extracellular traps [NETs]. The formation and/or clearance of aberrant NETs have been associated with several immune diseases. Here we investigated the role of NETs in UC-related inflammation.
Methods: The expression of NET-associated proteins was evaluated in colonic biopsies of patients with Crohn's disease [CD], UC and in normal controls [NC] by Western blotting, immunofluorescence and immunohistochemistry. Colonic biopsies of UC patients were analysed before and after anti-tumour necrosis factor α [anti-TNF-α] treatment. The capacity of neutrophils to produce NETs upon activation was tested in vitro. UC lamina propria mononuclear cells [LPMCs] were cultured with NETs in the presence or absence of an extracellular signal-regulated kinase-1/2 [ERK1/2] inhibitor and inflammatory cytokine induction was assessed by real-time polymerase chain reaction and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. We also characterized the contribution of NETs in dextran sodium sulfate [DSS]-induced colitis.
Results: NET-associated proteins were over-expressed in inflamed colon of UC patients as compared to CD patients and NC. Circulating neutrophils of UC patients produced NETs in response to TNF-α stimulation, and reduced expression of NET-related proteins and diminished NET formation were seen in patients receiving successful treatment with anti-TNF-α. Treatment of UC LPMCs with NETs activated ERK1/2, thus enhancing TNF-α and interleukin-1β [IL-1β] production. NETs were induced in mice with DSS-colitis and in vivo inhibition of NET release attenuated colitis.
Conclusions: Our data show that NET release occurs in UC and suggest a role for NETs in sustaining mucosal inflammation in this disorder.