A Gradient of Intestinal Inflammation in Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis


BACKGROUND: Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) is a progressive liver disease associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The percentage of PSC patients diagnosed with concomitant IBD varies considerably between studies. This raises the question whether all PSC patients would show intestinal inflammation if screened thoroughly, even in the absence of symptoms.

METHODS: To address this question, we collected intestinal biopsies of healthy controls (n = 34), PSC (n = 25), PSC-IBD (n = 41), and IBD (n = 51) patients in a cross-sectional study and carried out cytokine expression profiling, 16S sequencing, in-depth histology, and endoscopy scoring.

RESULTS: We found that the vast majority of PSC patients even without clinically manifest IBD showed infiltration of immune cells and increased expression of IL17A and IFNG in intestinal biopsies. However, expression of IL10 and FOXP3 were likewise increased, which may explain why these PSC patients have intestinal inflammation only on a molecular level. This subclinical inflammation in PSC patients was focused in the distal colon, whereas PSC-IBD patients showed inflammation either at the distal colon or on the right side of the colon and the terminal ileum. Furthermore, we observed that PSC patients without IBD showed signs of dysbiosis and exhibited a distinct microbial profile compared with healthy controls.

CONCLUSIONS: We found a gradient of intestinal inflammation in the vast majority of PSC patients even in the absence of IBD. Thus, further studies evaluating the effect of anti-inflammatory therapies in PSC patients and their impact on the emergence of clinically manifest IBD and colorectal cancer development are needed.

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StatusVeröffentlicht - 03.06.2024

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© The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.

PubMed 37540889