Chemokine receptor CXCR3 expression in inflammatory bowel disease



CD4+ T lymphocytes in the lamina propria (LP) of the gut play a central role in the immune response in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). CXCR3 is a chemokine receptor expressed on activated T lymphocytes, and a key component for the recruitment of T helper (Th1) effector cells to the site of inflammation. To determine if CXCR3 is involved in localization of T cells to the gut in IBD patients, we investigated the expression of CXCR3 on CD4+ T lymphocytes in the LP and in the submucosa of resection specimens from 51 IBD patients and 15 control patients. Positive cells were microscopically scored using a semiquantitative analysis on a five-point scale. We found that CD4+ T cells, CXCR3+ cells, and CD4+CXCR3+ T cells in the LP were slightly increased in both IBD groups compared with control non-IBD specimens. In addition, CD4+ and CXCR3+ cells in the submucosa were significant increased in the CD group compared with the control group. CD4+ and CXCR3+ expression was not statistically different between CD and UC. Flow cytometry was used to analyze the percentage of CXCR3+ cells within the CD4+ T-cell population isolated from biopsy specimens and peripheral blood from IBD patients and control patients. There was no difference in the percentage of CD4+CXCR3+ cells between the different groups in the gut as well as in the circulation. These results suggest that CD4+CXCR3+ T cells migrate to the normal and inflamed intestinal mucosa, indicating a role in maintaining normal gut homeostasis. The selective expression of CXCR3+ cells in the submucosa of CD patients might also indicate that these cells play a role in inflammation.