NKG2D/Ligand dysregulation and functional alteration of innate immunity cell populations in pediatric IBD

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Background:Dysregulated innate immune responses play an important role in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). NKG2D innate immunity receptor is a major sensor of tissue damage that, by recognizing multiple stress-induced, cell-associated ligands (MIC-A/B and ULBP1-5), potentiates the effector functions of “innate-like” (γ/δ TcR+, and natural killer receptor+ [NKR+]) T-cell populations. We analyzed the representivity, NKG2D/ligand expression pattern, and functional ability of the major innate immunity cell populations in pediatric IBD patients.Methods:We analyzed 41 Crohn's disease (CD) patients, 33 ulcerative colitis (UC) patients, and 51 age-matched non-IBD controls. The expression of NKG2D and its ligands, interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) production, and cytotoxic granule release were assessed by immunostaining and multiparameter cytofluorimetric analysis on circulating and mucosal mononuclear subsets; the inflammatory infiltrate was also characterized by immunohistochemistry.Results:The expression pattern of NKG2D receptor and its ligands on mucosal and circulating innate immunity populations is severely disturbed in IBD; NKG2D and ligands are upregulated on immune infiltrate in both CD and UC active lesions; receptor/ligand upregulation also occurs on circulating leukocyte populations, where it depends on both disease activity and type (UC vs. CD). Finally, the frequency and effector capability of peripheral blood “innate-like” T-cell populations are also altered in IBD patients.Conclusions:The circulating and mucosal innate immunity compartment is phenotypically and functionally altered in pediatric IBD; some alterations may represent a distinctive feature of the pediatric disease condition. The disturbance of NKG2D/ligand pathway may play a role in sustaining immune activation which leads to chronic inflammatory tissue damage. (Inflamm Bowel Dis 2012)

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