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Remission-inducing effect of anti-TNF monoclonal antibody in TNBS colitis: Mechanisms beyond neutralization?

Shen, Chong1; de Hertogh, Gert3; Bullens, Dominique M.A.1; Van Assche, Gert2; Geboes, Karel3; Rutgeerts, Paul2; Ceuppens, Jan L.1*

doi: 10.1002/ibd.20005
Original Basic Science Articles: Remission-Inducing Effect of Anti-TNF: Original Article

Background Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) plays an important role in the pathogenesis of several inflammatory diseases. Its expression is increased in inflamed mucosa of Crohn's disease patients and anti-TNF treatment improves mucosal inflammation. Besides neutralization, induction of apoptosis of monocytes/macrophages and T cells is thought to be an important mechanism of action of the anti-TNF monoclonal antibody therapy. The aim was to investigate the pathogenic role of TNF in hapten-induced colitis models and to study the relationship between apoptosis induction and disease remission.

Methods In 2 murine colitis models (trinitrobenzene sulphonic acid, TNBS, and oxazolone colitis), mice were injected daily with anti-TNF monoclonal antibody (mAb). Macrophages were collected from lamina propria of TNBS colitis mice. 7AAD and anti-active-caspase-3 staining were used to study DNA degradation and intracellular caspase activation. A pan-caspase inhibitor, N-benzyloxycarbonyl-Val-Ala-Asp-fluoromethyketone (Z-VAD-FMK), was given to a subgroup of the colitis mice.

Results Treatment with anti-TNF effectively reduced intestinal mucosal inflammation in TNBS colitis but not in oxazolone colitis. Effectiveness was evidenced by a more rapid recovery of body weight and reduced cell infiltration, and downregulation of proinflammatory cytokines interferon-gamma (IFN-γ), TNF, and IL-18 at the mRNA level. Apoptosis was induced in lamina propria macrophages after treatment with anti-TNF, and it was abrogated through short-term pretreatment with Z-VAD-FMK.

Conclusion Anti-TNF downregulates proinflammatory cytokines and decreases cell infiltration in the bowel after TNBS application. The remission-inducing effect of anti-TNF may partly rely on apoptosis induction.

(Inflamm Bowel Dis 2006)

1Laboratory of Experimental Immunology, Katholike Universiteit Leuven, Belgium

2Division of Gastroenterology, Katholike Universiteit Leuven, Belgium

3Division of Pathology, Katholike Universiteit Leuven, Belgium

*Laboratory of Experimental Immunology, Campus Gasthuisberg (O&N), Herestraat 49, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium


Received for publication 25 May 2006; Accepted 12 September 2006

Published online 19 December 2006 in Wiley InterScience (

Grant sponsor: Schering-Plough; Grant sponsor: Centocor; Grant sponsor: FWO (Fund for Scientific Research) Vlaanderen; Grant Number: G.0080.02.

© Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America, Inc.
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