Celiac disease (CD)-associated inflammation is characterized by high interleukin- 21 (IL-21), but the mechanisms that control IL-21 production are not fully understood. Here we analyzed IL-21 cell sources and examined how IL-21 production is regulated in CD. Intraepithelial lymphocytes (IELs) and lamina propria lymphocytes (LPLs), isolated from CD patients and non-CD controls, were analyzed for cell markers, cytokines, and transcription factors by flow cytometry. IL-21 was highly produced by CD4+ and CD4+/CD8+ IELs and LPLs in active CD. IL-21-producing cells coexpressed interferon-γ (IFN-γ) and to a lesser extent T helper type 17 (Th17) cytokines. Treatment of control LPLs with IL-15, a cytokine overproduced in CD, activated Akt and STAT3 (signal transducer and activator of transcription 3), thus enhancing IL-21 synthesis. Active CD biopsies contained elevated levels of Akt, and blockade of IL-15 in those samples reduced IL-21. Similarly, neutralization of IL-15 in biopsies of inactive CD patients inhibited peptic-tryptic digest of gliadin-induced IL-21 expression. These findings indicate that in CD, IL-15 positively regulates IL-21 production.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy