Apoptosis resistance of T-cells is considered an abnormality of immune pathways in Crohn's disease (CD). It has been previously shown that corticosteroids induce apoptosis of cells involved in inflammation. Thus, our aim was to assess the apoptosis of mononuclear cells and pro/antiinflammatory cytokines in the intestinal mucosa of patients with active CD, related to steroid response, and identify cellular and molecular factors that may predict this response to therapy.
Patients with CD (n = 26), ulcerative colitis (UC) (n = 32), and controls (n = 10) were prospectively studied with mucosal biopsies before and 7–10 days after corticosteroid treatment. Immunophenotype and apoptosis of T and B lymphocytes, plasma cells, and macrophages were assessed by flow cytometry, immunohistochemistry, and immunofluorescence. The cytokine expression pattern was evaluated by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR).
Apoptosis resistance of T and B lymphocytes was observed only in steroid-refractory and -dependent CD patients as compared to responsive patients (P = 0.032; P = 0.004, respectively), being evident after steroid treatment. Interleukin (IL)-10 was markedly increased at baseline in steroid-responsive patients compared to the nonresponders (P = 0.006; sensitivity: 88.8%; specificity: 66.6% to predict steroid response).
Apoptosis resistance of mucosal T and B cells in steroid-refractory and -dependent CD patients appears during the evolution of the acute phase, limiting its clinical application as a predictor marker. In contrast, increased expression of IL-10 at an early stage of active steroid-sensitive CD patients supports its usefulness at predicting a good steroid response. Steroid-dependent and -refractory CD patients share similar molecular and cellular pathophysiological mechanisms. (Inflamm Bowel Dis 2010;)