Background: When done at a young age, appendicitis followed by appendectomy (AA) offers protection against ulcerative colitis development in later life. We developed the first ever murine AA model. Using this model, we showed earlier that previous AA ameliorated colitis. We aimed to determine whether autophagy genes contribute to the anti-colitis protection conferred by AA, and if so, to delineate the autophagy-linked genes involved in this.
Methods: Mice with 2 laparotomies each served as controls (sham–sham). Distal colons were harvested (4 AA-group colons, 4 sham–sham group colons), and RNA extracted from each. The RNA was taken through microarray analysis or reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction validation. Gene set enrichment analysis software was used to analyze the microarray data.
Results: Out of 28 key autophagy-related genes investigated (VPS15, VPS34, FIP200, ATG03, ATG04A, ATG04B, ATG05, ATG07, ATG10, ATG12, ATG13b, ATG14, ATG16L1, BECN1, GABARAPL1, IRGM1, IRGM2, LAMP2, LC3A, LC3B, RAB7A, UVRAG, NOD2, XBP1, LRRK2, ULK1, ULK2, PTPN2), 7 have genetic associations with inflammatory bowel diseases (ATG16L1, IRGM1, NOD2, XBP1, LRRK2, ULK1, PTPN2). There was slight upregulation of IRGM1, FIP200, and ATG04A (P < 0.05), but no variations with the other 25 genes. In contrast, gene set enrichment analysis revealed that AA downregulated 74 gene sets (associated with 28 autophagy genes) while upregulating only 5 (false discovery rate <5%; P < 0.001) gene sets. Additionally, 22 gene sets associated with the 7 autophagy + inflammatory bowel disease-associated genes were downregulated by AA, whereas only 3 were upregulated. The genes with maximum AA-induced gene set suppression were VPS15, LAMP2, LC3A, XBP1, and ULK1.
Conclusions: AA induces profound autophagy suppression in the distal colon. The AA-induced upregulation of individual genes (IRGM1, FIP200, ATG04A) could be a reflection of complex compensatory changes or the initial abnormality that led to the pronounced autophagy suppression. Autophagy suppression by AA may induce lesser antigen processing, leading to lesser cross-reactive immunity between microbes and self-antigens, and subsequent amelioration of colitis.