Image_2_CD3+CD4+LAP+Foxp3-Regulatory Cells of the Colonic Lamina Propria Limit Disease Extension in Ulcerative Colitis.tif

Background and Aims: In ulcerative colitis (UC), inflammation begins in the rectum and can extend proximally throughout the entire colon. The extension of inflammation is an important determinant of disease course, and may be limited by the action of regulatory T cells (Tregs). In this cross-sectional study, we evaluated the relationship between UC extension and the proportions of CD3+CD4+Foxp3+ and CD3+CD4+LAP+Foxp3-Tregs in the colonic lamina propria (LP) of 79 UC patients and 29 controls. The role of these cells in UC extension was also investigated in the murine oxazolone-induced colitis model.

Methods: Patients: Disease extension was classified according to the Montreal classification. Where possible, endoscopic biopsies of involved and uninvolved tissue were obtained from UC patients. Mouse model: Colitis was induced by intrarectal oxazolone administration. Lamina propria mononuclear cells were isolated from patient biopsies and mouse colon tissue using enzymatic method and the percentage of CD3+CD4+Foxp3+ and CD3+CD4+LAP+Foxp3-cells evaluated by immunofluorescence. Confocal microscopy was applied for the visualization and quantification of CD4+LAP+ cells on tissue histological sections.

Results: In UC patients with distal colitis the proportion of LP CD3+CD4+Foxp3+ Tregs was significantly higher in inflamed tissue than uninvolved tissue. As opposite, the proportion of LP CD3+CD4+LAP+ Tregs was significantly higher in uninvolved tissue than involved tissue. Both LP CD3+CD4+Foxp3+ and LP CD3+CD4+LAP+ Tregs proportion in involved tissue was significantly higher than in controls irrespective of the extension of inflammation. In mice with oxazolone-induced distal colitis, treatment with LAP-depleting antibody was associated with the development of extensive colitis.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that CD3+CD4+LAP+Foxp3-Tregs limit the extension of inflammatory lesions in UC patients.