Induction of RET Dependent and Independent Pro-Inflammatory Programs in Human Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells from Hirschsprung Patients

Marta Rusmini, Paola Griseri, Francesca Lantieri, Ivana Matera, Kelly L. Hudspeth, Alessandra Roberto, Joanna Mikulak, Stefano Avanzini, Valentina Rossi, Girolamo Mattioli, Vincenzo Jasonni, Roberto Ravazzolo, William J. Pavan, Alessio Pini-Prato, Isabella Ceccherini, Domenico Mavilio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hirschsprung disease (HSCR) is a rare congenital anomaly characterized by the absence of enteric ganglia in the distal intestinal tract. While classified as a multigenic disorder, the altered function of the RET tyrosine kinase receptor is responsible for the majority of the pathogenesis of HSCR. Recent evidence demonstrate a strong association between RET and the homeostasis of immune system. Here, we utilize a unique cohort of fifty HSCR patients to fully characterize the expression of RET receptor on both innate (monocytes and Natural Killer lymphocytes) and adaptive (B and T lymphocytes) human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and to explore the role of RET signaling in the immune system. We show that the increased expression of RET receptor on immune cell subsets from HSCR individuals correlates with the presence of loss-of-function RET mutations. Moreover, we demonstrate that the engagement of RET on PBMCs induces the modulation of several inflammatory genes. In particular, RET stimulation with glial-cell line derived neurotrophic factor family (GDNF) and glycosyl-phosphatidylinositol membrane anchored co-receptor α1 (GFRα1) trigger the up-modulation of genes encoding either for chemokines (CCL20, CCL2, CCL3, CCL4, CCL7, CXCL1) and cytokines (IL-1β, IL-6 and IL-8) and the down-regulation of chemokine/cytokine receptors (CCR2 and IL8-Rα). Although at different levels, the modulation of these "RET-dependent genes" occurs in both healthy donors and HSCR patients. We also describe another set of genes that, independently from RET stimulation, are differently regulated in healthy donors versus HSCR patients. Among these "RET-independent genes", there are CSF-1R, IL1-R1, IL1-R2 and TGFβ-1, whose levels of transcripts were lower in HSCR patients compared to healthy donors, thus suggesting aberrancies of inflammatory responses at mucosal level. Overall our results demonstrate that immune system actively participates in the physiopathology of HSCR disease by modulating inflammatory programs that are either dependent or independent from RET signaling.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere59066
JournalPLoS One
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 18 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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