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Dambacher, Julia; Beigel, Florian; Seiderer, Julia; Haller, Dirk; Göke, Burkhard; Auernhammer, Christoph J. and Brand, Stephan (2007): Interleukin 31 mediates MAP kinase and STAT1/3 activation in intestinal epithelial cells and its expression is upregulated in inflammatory bowel disease. In: Gut, Vol. 56, No. 9: pp. 1257-1265 [PDF, 559kB]


Background/aim: Interleukin 31 (IL31), primarily expressed in activated lymphocytes, signals through a heterodimeric receptor complex consisting of the IL31 receptor alpha (IL31R\textgreeka) and the oncostatin M receptor (OSMR). The aim of this study was to analyse IL31 receptor expression, signal transduction, and specific biological functions of this cytokine system in intestinal inflammation.Methods: Expression studies were performed by RT-PCR, quantitative PCR, western blotting, and immunohistochemistry. Signal transduction was analysed by western blotting. Cell proliferation was measured by MTS assays, cell migration by restitution assays.Results: Colorectal cancer derived intestinal epithelial cell (IEC) lines express both IL31 receptor subunits, while their expression in unstimulated primary murine IEC was low. LPS and the proinflammatory cytokines TNF-\textgreeka, IL1\textgreekb, IFN-\textgreekg, and sodium butyrate stimulation increased IL31, IL31R\textgreeka, and OSMR mRNA expression, while IL31 itself enhanced IL8 expression in IEC. IL31 mediates ERK-1/2, Akt, STAT1, and STAT3 activation in IEC resulting in enhanced IEC migration. However, at low cell density, IL31 had significant antiproliferative capacities (p<0.005). IL31 mRNA expression was not increased in the TNF\textgreekDARE mouse model of ileitis but in inflamed colonic lesions compared to non-inflamed tissue in patients with Crohn's disease (CD; average 2.4-fold increase) and in patients with ulcerative colitis (UC; average 2.6-fold increase) and correlated with the IL-8 expression in these lesions (r = 0.564 for CD; r = 0.650 for UC; total number of biopsies analysed: n = 88).Conclusion: IEC express the functional IL31 receptor complex. IL31 modulates cell proliferation and migration suggesting a role in the regulation of intestinal barrier function particularly in intestinal inflammation.

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