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Research article2015Peer reviewed

Expression of T helper type 17 (Th17)-associated cytokines and toll-like receptor 4 and their correlation with Foxp3 positive cells in rectal biopsies of horses with clinical signs of inflammatory bowel disease

Olofsson, Karin; Hjertner, Bernt; Fossum, Caroline; Press, Charles; Lindberg, Ronny


Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in horses is an idiopathic disorder, encompassing different types of chronic intestinal inflammation. The pathogenesis of the disease remains to be established, but it has been suggested that an imbalance between regulatory T cells (Tregs) and T helper 17 (Th17)-associated cytokines and altered toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) expression is associated with intestinal inflammation in other species. The aim of the present study was to quantify Tregs in rectal biopsies from horses affected with IBD by immunohistochemistry and to evaluate expression of genes encoding interleukin (IL)-12p40, IL-17A, IL-23p19 and TLR4 by real-time quantitative PCR.Rectal biopsies from 11 healthy horses and 11 horses with clinical signs of IBD, showing inflammation classified as chronic simple proctitis (CSP) or chronic active simple proctitis (CASP), were evaluated. Expression of IL-17A mRNA was greater in horses affected with CASP compared with horses with CSP or healthy horses. In contrast, expression of IL-12p40 was lower in horses with CSP compared with horses with CASP or healthy horses. TLR4 expression was greater in horses with CASP compared with healthy horses. A positive correlation was seen between the numbers of Tregs and expression of IL-17A and IL-23p19. An association was demonstrated between the histopathological pattern of inflammation, cytokine profile and number of infiltrating Tregs. The research findings suggest that Th17 cells are involved in active IBD, possibly through recruitment of neutrophils via IL-17A, in combination with inadequate suppression of the inflammatory response by Tregs. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Cytokine; Horse; Inflammatory bowel disease; Intestine; Rectal biopsy

Published in

Veterinary Journal
2015, Volume: 206, number: 1, pages: 97-104