Background: Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) has a remitting and relapsing disease course; however, relatively little is understood regarding how inflammatory damage in acute colitis influences the microbiota, epithelial barrier, and immune function in subsequent colitis.
Methods: Mice were administered trinitrobenzene sulphonic acid (TNBS) via enema, and inflammation was assessed 2 days (d2) or 28 days (d28) later. Colitis was reactivated in some mice by re-treating at 28 days with TNBS and assessing 2 days later (d30). Epithelial responsiveness to secretagogues, microbiota composition, colonic infiltration, and immune activation was compared between all groups. R
esults: At day 28, the distal colon had healed, mucosa was restored, and innate immune response had subsided, but colonic transepithelial transport (P = 0.048), regulatory T-cell (TREG) infiltration (P = 0.014), adherent microbiota composition (P = 0.0081), and responsiveness of stimulated innate immune bone marrow cells (P < 0.0001 for IL-1β) differed relative to health. Two days after subsequent instillation of TNBS (d30 mice), the effects on inflammatory damage (P < 0.0001), paracellular permeability (P < 0.0001), and innate immune infiltration (P < 0.0001 for Ly6C+ Ly6G- macrophages) were reduced relative to d2 colitis. However, TREG infiltration was increased (P < 0.0001), and the responsiveness of stimulated T cells in the mesenteric lymph nodes shifted from pro-inflammatory at d2 to immune-suppressive at d30 (P < 0.0001 for IL-10). These effects were observed despite similar colonic microbiota composition and degradation of the mucosal layer between d2 and d30.
Conclusions: Collectively, these results indicate that acute colitis chronically alters epithelial barrier function and both innate and adaptive immune responses. These effects reduce the consequences of a subsequent colitis event, warranting longitudinal studies in human IBD subjects.
- Epithelial barrier
- Immune tolerance
- Inflammatory bowel disease