Crohn's disease (CD) is a condition characterized by excessive numbers of activated T cells in the mucosa. We investigated whether a defect in apoptosis could prolong T cell survival and contribute to their accumulation in the mucosa. Apoptotic, Bcl-2+, and Bax+ cells in tissue sections were detected by the TUNEL method and immunohistochemistry. T cell apoptosis was induced by IL-2 deprivation, Fas Ag ligation, and exposure to TNF-α and nitric oxide. TUNEL+ leukocytes were few in control, CD, and ulcerative colitis (UC) mucosa, with occasional CD68+ and myeloperoxidase+, but no CD45RO+, apoptotic cells. Compared with control and UC, CD T cells grew remarkably more in response to IL-2 and were significantly more resistant to IL-2 deprivation-induced apoptosis. CD T cells were also more resistant to Fas- and nitric oxide-mediated apoptosis, whereas TNF-α failed to induce cell death in all groups. Compared with control, CD mucosa contained similar numbers of Bel-2+, but fewer Bax+, cells, while UC mucosa contained fewer Bel-2+, but more Bax+, cells. Hence, the Bel-2/Bax ratio was significantly higher in CD and lower in UC. These results indicate that CD may represent a disorder where the rate of T cell proliferation exceeds that of cell death. Insufficient T cell apoptosis may interfere with clonal deletion and maintenance of tolerance, and result in inappropriate T cell accumulation contributing to chronic inflammation.
|Number of pages||10|
|Journal||Journal of Immunology|
|Publication status||Published - 1999 Jul 15|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy