Background and Aims: Costimulatory signals are essential for T-cell activation. The aim of this study was to demonstrate expression of costimulatory molecules CD86 and CD80 in human colonic epithelial cells and assess their functional roles in the activation of T cells in inflamed colonic mucosa. Methods: CD86 and CD80 expression was assessed by immunohistochemistry of colonic mucosa, reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction, and flow cytometric analysis of isolated colonic epithelial cells and cell lines. Costimulatory effect of CD86-expressing colonic epithelial cells on purified CD4+ T-cell proliferation was also assessed at suboptimal phytohemagglutinin stimulation. Results: CD86 and CD80 messenger RNA was detected in isolated colonic epithelial cells from normal and inflamed mucosa of patients with ulcerative colitis. Immunohistochemistry and flow cytometric analysis of colonic epithelial cells confirmed cell surface expression of CD86 protein in inflamed colonic mucosa. Cell surface expression of CD86 protein was increased in the colonic epithelial cell line HT29-18-N2 after interferon gamma stimulation. Purified CD4+ T cells proliferated in response to suboptimal phytohemagglutinin costimulated with interferon gamma-stimulated HT2918-N2, and these proliferative responses were efficiently inhibited by the addition of anti-CD86 monoclonal antibody. Costimulatory effect of CD86-expressing colonic epithelial cells isolated from inflamed mucosa of ulcerative colitis was also demonstrated at suboptimal phytohemagglutinin stimulation in CD4+ T cells. Conclusions: Colonic epithelial cells may act as antigen-presenting cells, and contribute to the activation of T cells through costimulatory molecule CD86 expression in inflamed colonic mucosa.
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