BACKGROUND & AIMS - There is controversy regarding the role of the type 2 immune response in the pathogenesis of ulcerative colitis (UC)-few data are available from treatment-naive patients. We investigated whether genes associated with a type 2 immune response in the intestinal mucosa are up-regulated in treatment-naive pediatric patients with UC compared with patients with Crohn's disease (CD)-associated colitis or without inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and whether expression levels are associated with clinical outcomes.
METHODS - We used a real-time reverse-transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction array to analyze messenger RNA (mRNA) expression patterns in rectal mucosal samples from 138 treatment-naive pediatric patients with IBD and macroscopic rectal disease, as well as those from 49 children without IBD (controls), enrolled in a multicenter prospective observational study from 2008 to 2012. Results were validated in real-time reverse-transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction analyses of rectal RNA from an independent cohort of 34 pediatric patients with IBD and macroscopic rectal disease and 17 controls from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.
RESULTS - We measured significant increases in mRNAs associated with a type 2 immune response (interleukin [IL]5 gene, IL13, and IL13RA2) and a type 17 immune response (IL17A and IL23) in mucosal samples from patients with UC compared with patients with colon-only CD. In a regression model, increased expression of IL5 and IL17A mRNAs distinguished patients with UC from patients with colon-only CD (P = .001; area under the receiver operating characteristic curve, 0.72). We identified a gene expression pattern in rectal tissues of patients with UC, characterized by detection of IL13 mRNA, that predicted clinical response to therapy after 6 months (odds ratio [OR], 6.469; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.553-26.94), clinical response after 12 months (OR, 6.125; 95% CI, 1.330-28.22), and remission after 12 months (OR, 5.333; 95% CI, 1.132-25.12).
CONCLUSIONS - In an analysis of rectal tissues from treatment-naive pediatric patients with IBD, we observed activation of a type 2 immune response during the early course of UC. We were able to distinguish patients with UC from those with colon-only CD based on increased mucosal expression of genes that mediate type 2 and type 17 immune responses. Increased expression at diagnosis of genes that mediate a type 2 immune response is associated with response to therapy and remission in pediatric patients with UC.
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