CXCL12 is a constitutive and inflammatory chemokine in the intestinal immune system

Iris Dotan*, Lael Werner, Sharon Vigodman, Sigal Weiss, Eli Brazowski, Nitsan Maharshak, Ofer Chen, Hagit Tulchinsky, Zamir Halpern, Hanan Guzner-Gur

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is characterized by increased lymphocytic infiltrate to the lamina propria (LP) and upregulation of inflammatory chemokines and receptors. CXCL12 is a constitutive chemokine involved in lung, brain, and joint inflammation. We hypothesized that CXCL12 and its receptor, CXCR4, would have a constitutive and inflammatory role in the gut. Methods: Intestinal epithelial cells (IECs) and T lymphocytes were isolated from intestinal mucosa of IBD and control patients undergoing bowel resection. Autologous T cells were isolated from peripheral blood (PB). CXCL12 and CXCR4 expression by IECs was assessed by polymerase chain reaction and immunohistochemistry, lymphocyte phenotype by flow cytometry, and migration by Transwells. Results: IECs expressed CXCL12 and expression was increased and more diffuse in IBD compared to normal crypts (ulcerative colitis [UC] > Crohn's disease [CD], inflamed > noninflamed). CXCR4 was expressed by IECs, LP T cells (LPTs), and PB T cells (PBTs), and CXCR4+ cells were increased in IBD LP in situ. PBTs and LPTs from all patients had a high and comparable migration toward CXCL12 (P < 0.0001 and P < 0.05 vs. medium, respectively). Migration toward IBD-IEC-derived supernatant was significantly higher compared to normal. Antibodies against CXCR4 and CXCL12 blocked migration. Conclusions: CXCL12 is expressed by normal IECs and upregulated and differentially distributed in IBD IECs. CXCR4 is expressed by IECs and LPTs, and CXCR4+ cells are significantly increased in IBD LP. CXCL12 is chemotactic for both PBTs and LPTs. Thus, CXCL12 and CXCR4 have a constitutive and inflammatory role in the intestinal mucosa and their selective therapeutic manipulation may be considered in IBD management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)583-592
Number of pages10
JournalInflammatory Bowel Diseases
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • CXCL12
  • CXCR4
  • Chemokines
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Mucosal immunology


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