[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Eukaryotes High Mobility Group Box (HMGB) proteins are nuclear factors involved in chromatin remodelling and transcription regulation. When released into the extracellular milieu, HMGB1 acts as a pro-inflammatory cytokine that plays a central role in the pathogenesis of several immune mediated inflammatory diseases. We found that the Plasmodium genome encodes two genuine HMGB factors, Plasmodium HMGB1 and HMGB2 that encompass, as their human counterparts, a pro-inflammatory domain. Given that these proteins are released from parasitized red blood cells, we then hypothesized that Plasmodium HMGB might contribute to the pathogenesis of experimental cerebral malaria, a lethal neuroinflammatory syndrome that develops in C57BL/6-susceptible-mice infected with P. berghei ANKA and that resembles in many aspects human cerebral malaria elicited by P. falciparum infection. The pathogenesis of experimental cerebral malaria was suppressed in C57BL/6 mice infected with PbANKA lacking the hmgb2 gene (Δhmgb2 PbANKA), an effect associated with reduction of histological brain lesions and with lower expression of several pro-inflammatory genes. Incidence of ECM in pbhmgb2 deficient mice was restored by the administration of recombinant PbHMGB2. Protection from experimental cerebral malaria in Δhmgb2 PbANKA-infected mice was associated with reduced sequestration in the brain of CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells including CD8+ Granzyme B and CD8+ IFNγ+ cells, and to some extent neutrophils. This was consistent with a reduced parasite sequestration in the brain, lungs and spleen even though to a lesser extent when compared to wild-type PbANKA-infected mice. In summary, Plasmodium HMGB2 acts as an alarmin that contributes to the pathogenesis of cerebral malaria.
Infection and Immunity 07/2015; 83(7):IAI.03129-14. DOI:10.1128/IAI.03129-14 · 3.73 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rhinoscleroma is a human specific chronic disease characterized by the formation of granuloma in the airways, caused by the bacterium Klebsiella pneumoniae subspecies rhinoscleromatis, a species very closely related to K. pneumoniae subspecies pneumoniae. It is characterized by the appearance of specific foamy macrophages called Mikulicz cells. However, very little is known about the pathophysiological processes underlying rhinoscleroma. Herein, we characterized a murine model recapitulating the formation of Mikulicz cells in lungs and identified them as atypical inflammatory monocytes specifically recruited from the bone marrow upon K. rhinoscleromatis infection in a CCR2-independent manner. While K. pneumoniae and K. rhinoscleromatis infections induced a classical inflammatory reaction, K. rhinoscleromatis infection was characterized by a strong production of IL-10 concomitant to the appearance of Mikulicz cells. Strikingly, in the absence of IL-10, very few Mikulicz cells were observed, confirming a crucial role of IL-10 in the establishment of a proper environment leading to the maturation of these atypical monocytes. This is the first characterization of the environment leading to Mikulicz cells maturation and their identification as inflammatory monocytes.
EMBO Molecular Medicine 04/2013; 5(4):516-30. DOI:10.1002/emmm.201202023 · 8.67 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: The Human T-cell Leukemia Virus type 1 (HTLV-1) is the causative agent of several inflammatory diseases, including HTLV-1-associated inflammatory myopathies (HAIM). Little is known about the virological and immunological characteristics of this viral disease. OBJECTIVES: To characterize the histological and virological features of HAIM patients, in order to better understand the pathogenetic mechanisms and unravel new biological markers of this disease. STUDY DESIGN: We conducted a retrospective study on 13 patients with HAIM, based on blood and muscle samples. We included blood samples from HTLV-1-infected individuals without myopathy as controls. Muscle biopsies were used for a broad immunohistological evaluation of tissue damage and inflammation, as well as identification of infected cells through in situ hybridization. DNA extracted from patients' PBMC was used to identify the virus genotype by sequencing and to assess the proviral load by quantitative PCR. Anti-viral antibodies in plasma samples were titrated by indirect immunofluorescence. RESULTS: Patients originate from HTLV-1 endemic areas, the West Indies and West Africa. Histological alterations and inflammation in patients muscles were mostly moderate, with classical features of idiopathic myositis and rare HTLV-1-infected infiltrating cells. In all patients, HTLV-1 belonged to the A subtype, transcontinental subgroup. Anti-HTLV-1 antibodies titers were high, but the proviral load was not elevated compared to asymptomatic HTLV-1 carriers. CONCLUSION: We show here that muscle inflammation is moderate in HAIM, and accompanied by a low HTLV-1 proviral load, suggesting that the pathogenetic events do not exactly mirror those of other HTLV-1-associated inflammatory diseases.
Journal of clinical virology: the official publication of the Pan American Society for Clinical Virology 01/2013; 57(1). DOI:10.1016/j.jcv.2012.12.016 · 3.02 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Anopheles gambiae is a major vector of malaria and lymphatic filariasis. The arthropod-host interactions occurring at the skin interface are complex and dynamic. We used a global approach to describe the interaction between the mosquito (infected or uninfected) and the skin of mammals during blood feeding.
Intravital video microscopy was used to characterize several features during blood feeding. The deposition and movement of Plasmodium berghei sporozoites in the dermis were also observed. We also used histological techniques to analyze the impact of infected and uninfected feedings on the skin cell response in naive mice.
The mouthparts were highly mobile within the skin during the probing phase. Probing time increased with mosquito age, with possible effects on pathogen transmission. Repletion was achieved by capillary feeding. The presence of sporozoites in the salivary glands modified the behavior of the mosquitoes, with infected females tending to probe more than uninfected females (86% versus 44%). A white area around the tip of the proboscis was observed when the mosquitoes fed on blood from the vessels of mice immunized with saliva. Mosquito feedings elicited an acute inflammatory response in naive mice that peaked three hours after the bite. Polynuclear and mast cells were associated with saliva deposits. We describe the first visualization of saliva in the skin by immunohistochemistry (IHC) with antibodies directed against saliva. Both saliva deposits and sporozoites were detected in the skin for up to 18 h after the bite.
This study, in which we visualized the probing and engorgement phases of Anopheles gambiae blood meals, provides precise information about the behavior of the insect as a function of its infection status and the presence or absence of anti-saliva antibodies. It also provides insight into the possible consequences of the inflammatory reaction for blood feeding and pathogen transmission.
PLoS ONE 12/2012; 7(12):e50464. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0050464 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rationale : Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator (CFTR) protein is a chloride channel regulating fluid homeostasis at epithelial surfaces. Its loss of function induces hypo-hydration, mucus accumulation, and bacterial infections in cystic fibrosis and potentially other lung chronic diseases. Objectives : Although the activating effect of proteases on the epithelium sodium channel (ENAC) has been studied in the context of cystic fibrosis, the direct role of inflammatory proteases on CFTR loss of function has not been investigated so far and this was the focus of the present study. Methods : Using an adenovirus (Ad)-CFTR over-expression approach, we measured the effect of purified neutrophil elastase (NE) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection on CFTR structure and function, in vitro and in vivo. Results : We showed that NE degrades WT- and F508-CFTR in vitro and WT-CFTR in mice, through a new pathway involving the activation of intra-cellular calpains. This CFTR degradation triggered a loss of function, as measured in vitro by channel patch-clamp and in vivo by nasal potential recording in mice. Importantly, this mechanism was also shown to be operative in a Pseudomonas aeruginosa lung infection murine model. This was NE-dependent, since CFTR integrity was significantly protected in NE-/- mice, compared to WT mice. Conclusion : These data provide a new mechanism and show for the first time a link between NE-calpains activation and CFTR loss of function in bacterial lung infections relevant to CF and to other chronic inflammatory lung conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases and bronchiectasis.
American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine 12/2012; 187(2). DOI:10.1164/rccm.201205-0875OC · 13.00 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The four and a half LIM-only protein 2 (FHL2) is upregulated in diverse pathological conditions. Here, we analyzed the effects of FHL2 overexpression in the liver of FHL2 transgenic mice (Apo-FHL2).
We first examined cell proliferation and apoptosis in Apo-FHL2 livers and performed partial hepatectomy to investigate high FHL2 expression in liver regeneration. Expression of FHL2 was then analyzed by real time PCR in human hepatocellular carcinoma and adjacent non-tumorous livers. Finally, the role of FHL2 in hepatocarcinogenesis was assessed using Apo-FHL2;Apc(lox/lox) mice.
Six-fold increase in cell proliferation in transgenic livers was associated with concomitant apoptosis, resulting in normal liver mass. In Apo-FHL2 livers, both cyclin D1 and p53 were markedly increased. Evidence supporting a p53-dependent cell death mechanism was provided by the findings that FHL2 bound to and activated the p53 promoter, and that a dominant negative p53 mutant compromised FHL2-induced apoptosis in hepatic cells. Following partial hepatectomy in Apo-FHL2 mice, hepatocytes displayed advanced G1 phase entry and DNA synthesis leading to accelerated liver weight restoration. Interestingly, FHL2 upregulation in human liver specimens showed significant association with increasing inflammation score and cirrhosis. Finally, while Apo-FHL2 mice developed no tumors, the FHL2 transgene enhanced hepatocarcinogenesis induced by liver-specific deletion of the adenomatous polyposis coli gene and aberrant Wnt/β-catenin signaling in Apc(lox/lox) animals.
Our results implicate FHL2 in the regulation of signaling pathways that couple proliferation and cell death machineries, and underscore the important role of FHL2 in liver homeostasis and carcinogenesis.
Journal of Hepatology 07/2012; 57(5):1029-36. DOI:10.1016/j.jhep.2012.06.035 · 11.34 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sindbis virus (SINV) is a mosquito-borne alphavirus found in Eurasia, Africa, and Oceania. Clinical SINV infection is characterized by febrile rash and arthritis and sometimes prolonged arthralgia and myalgia. The pathophysiological mechanisms of musculoskeletal and rheumatic disease caused by SINV are inadequately understood.
We studied the muscle pathology of SINV infection ex vivo by examining a unique muscle biopsy obtained from a patient with chronic myalgia and arthralgia 6 months after acute SINV infection and assessed potential genetic predisposing factors by determining the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) and complement factor C4 genes and proteins. In addition, we performed in vitro SINV infections of primary human myoblasts and myotubes.
In the muscle biopsy we found evidence of muscle regeneration due to previous necrotic lesions likely caused by earlier SINV infection. We showed that human myoblasts and myotubes were susceptible in vitro for SINV infection as the cells became immunoreactive for viral antigens and cytopathic effect was observed. The patient was homozygous for HLA-B*35 alleles and heterozygous for HLA-DRB1*01 and HLA-DRB1*03 alleles and had total deficiency of C4B protein.
This study provides new insights concerning pathological processes leading to chronic symptoms in SINV infection and demonstrates for the first time the susceptibility of human myogenic cells to SINV infection.
The Journal of Infectious Diseases 05/2012; 206(3):407-14. DOI:10.1093/infdis/jis358 · 6.00 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: H. pylori drug-resistant strains and non-compliance to therapy are the major causes of H. pylori eradication failure. For some bacterial species it has been demonstrated that fatty acids have a growth inhibitory effect. Our main aim was to assess the ability of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) to inhibit H. pylori growth both in vitro and in a mouse model. The effectiveness of standard therapy (ST) in combination with DHA on H. pylori eradication and recurrence prevention success was also investigated. The effects of DHA on H. pylori growth were analyzed in an in vitro dose-response study and n in vivo model. We analized the ability of H. pylori to colonize mice gastric mucosa following DHA, ST or a combination of both treatments. Our data demonstrate that DHA decreases H. pylori growth in vitro in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, DHA inhibits H. pylori gastric colonization in vivo as well as decreases mouse gastric mucosa inflammation. Addition of DHA to ST was also associated with lower H. pylori infection recurrence in the mouse model. In conclusion, DHA is an inhibitor of H. pylori growth and its ability to colonize mouse stomach. DHA treatment is also associated with a lower recurrence of H. pylori infection in combination with ST. These observations pave the way to consider DHA as an adjunct agent in H. pylori eradication treatment.
PLoS ONE 04/2012; 7(4):e35072. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0035072 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Plague is still a public health problem in the world and is re-emerging, but no efficient vaccine is available. We previously reported that oral inoculation of a live attenuated Yersinia pseudotuberculosis, the recent ancestor of Yersinia pestis, provided protection against bubonic plague. However, the strain poorly protected against pneumonic plague, the most deadly and contagious form of the disease, and was not genetically defined.
The sequenced Y. pseudotuberculosis IP32953 has been irreversibly attenuated by deletion of genes encoding three essential virulence factors. An encapsulated Y. pseudotuberculosis was generated by cloning the Y. pestis F1-encoding caf operon and expressing it in the attenuated strain. The new V674pF1 strain produced the F1 capsule in vitro and in vivo. Oral inoculation of V674pF1 allowed the colonization of the gut without lesions to Peyer's patches and the spleen. Vaccination induced both humoral and cellular components of immunity, at the systemic (IgG and Th1 cells) and the mucosal levels (IgA and Th17 cells). A single oral dose conferred 100% protection against a lethal pneumonic plague challenge (33×LD(50) of the fully virulent Y. pestis CO92 strain) and 94% against a high challenge dose (3,300×LD(50)). Both F1 and other Yersinia antigens were recognized and V674pF1 efficiently protected against a F1-negative Y. pestis.
The encapsulated Y. pseudotuberculosis V674pF1 is an efficient live oral vaccine against pneumonic plague, and could be developed for mass vaccination in tropical endemic areas to control pneumonic plague transmission and mortality.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although laboratory mice are usually highly susceptible to Yersinia pestis, we recently identified a mouse strain (SEG) that exhibited an exceptional capacity to resist bubonic plague and used it to identify immune mechanisms associated with resistance.
The kinetics of infection, circulating blood cells, granulopoiesis, lesions, and cellular populations in the spleen, and cytokine production in various tissues were compared in SEG and susceptible C57BL/6J mice after subcutaneous infection with the virulent Y. pestis CO92.
Bacterial invasion occurred early (day 2) but was transient in SEG/Pas mice, whereas in C57BL/6J mice it was delayed but continuous until death. The bacterial load in all organs significantly correlated with the production of 5 cytokines (granulocyte colony-stimulating factor, keratinocyte-derived chemokine (KC), macrophage cationic peptide-1 (MCP-1), interleukin 1α, and interleukin 6) involved in monocyte and neutrophil recruitment. Indeed, higher proportions of these 2 cell types in blood and massive recruitment of F4/80(+)CD11b(-) macrophages in the spleen were observed in SEG/Pas mice at an early time point (day 2). Later times after infection (day 4) were characterized in C57BL/6J mice by destructive lesions of the spleen and impaired granulopoiesis.
A fast and efficient Y. pestis dissemination in SEG mice may be critical for the triggering of an early and effective innate immune response necessary for surviving plague.
The Journal of Infectious Diseases 11/2011; 205(1):134-43. DOI:10.1093/infdis/jir696 · 6.00 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Helicobacter pylori infection is associated with gastric cancer (GC). The highest incidence rates have been described in Asia, but regional variations exist that do not match the distribution of infection prevalence rates. The aim of the study was to examine the possible contribution of H. pylori virulence factors to geographic differences in the incidence of GC across East and Southeast Asia. We studied 66 isolates from Cambodian patients that had previously been assigned to two genetic populations based on sequences of seven housekeeping genes, namely hpEurope (n = 34, 51.5%) and hpEastAsia, subpopulation hspEAsia (n = 32, 48.5%). These strains were characterized with respect to vacA polymorphism and cagA status by PCR, and the CagA C-terminal region was sequenced. We also sequenced the complete cagA gene from 10 hpEurope and 10 hspEAsia strains chosen at random. The cagA gene was present in 92.4% of the 66 isolates and was mainly of Western type (n = 36, 59.0%). hspEAsia strains carrying East-Asian CagA and the m1-type vacA allele (15.2%) were less frequent among the 66 Cambodian isolates than reported in East Asian countries, a finding that might partly explain the intermediate incidence of GC in Cambodia, and by extension, in Southeast Asia (except for Vietnam). The observed high prevalence of s1a alleles (34.4%) and Western CagA (28.1%) among hspEAsia strains indicates frequent introgression of European vacA and cagA alleles into East Asian H. pylori strains. This expansion might have severe consequences for individual disease outcome.
Infection, genetics and evolution: journal of molecular epidemiology and evolutionary genetics in infectious diseases 08/2011; 11(8):1899-905. DOI:10.1016/j.meegid.2011.08.007 · 3.02 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The human population history in Southeast Asia was shaped by numerous migrations and population expansions. Their reconstruction based on archaeological, linguistic or human genetic data is often hampered by the limited number of informative polymorphisms in classical human genetic markers, such as the hypervariable regions of the mitochondrial DNA. Here, we analyse housekeeping gene sequences of the human stomach bacterium Helicobacter pylori from various countries in Southeast Asia and we provide evidence that H. pylori accompanied at least three ancient human migrations into this area: i) a migration from India introducing hpEurope bacteria into Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia; ii) a migration of the ancestors of Austro-Asiatic speaking people into Vietnam and Cambodia carrying hspEAsia bacteria; and iii) a migration of the ancestors of the Thai people from Southern China into Thailand carrying H. pylori of population hpAsia2. Moreover, the H. pylori sequences reflect iv) the migrations of Chinese to Thailand and Malaysia within the last 200 years spreading hspEasia strains, and v) migrations of Indians to Malaysia within the last 200 years distributing both hpAsia2 and hpEurope bacteria. The distribution of the bacterial populations seems to strongly influence the incidence of gastric cancer as countries with predominantly hspEAsia isolates exhibit a high incidence of gastric cancer while the incidence is low in countries with a high proportion of hpAsia2 or hpEurope strains. In the future, the host range expansion of hpEurope strains among Asian populations, combined with human motility, may have a significant impact on gastric cancer incidence in Asia.
PLoS ONE 07/2011; 6(7):e22058. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0022058 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Powerful noninvasive imaging technologies enable real-time tracking of pathogen-host interactions in vivo, giving access to previously elusive events. We visualized the interactions between wild-type Bacillus anthracis and its host during a spore infection through bioluminescence imaging coupled with histology. We show that edema toxin plays a central role in virulence in guinea pigs and during inhalational infection in mice. Edema toxin (ET), but not lethal toxin (LT), markedly modified the patterns of bacterial dissemination leading, to apparent direct dissemination to the spleen and provoking apoptosis of lymphoid cells. Each toxin alone provoked particular histological lesions in the spleen. When ET and LT are produced together during infection, a specific temporal pattern of lesion developed, with early lesions typical of LT, followed at a later stage by lesions typical of ET. Our study provides new insights into the complex spatial and temporal effects of B. anthracis toxins in the infected host, suggesting a greater role than previously suspected for ET in anthrax and suggesting that therapeutic targeting of ET contributes to protection.
American Journal Of Pathology 06/2011; 178(6):2523-35. DOI:10.1016/j.ajpath.2011.02.027 · 4.59 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The role of toxins secreted by the type II secretion system (T2SS) of Pseudomonas aeruginosa during lung infection has been uncertain despite decades of research.
Using a model of pneumonia in Toll-like receptor (TLR) 2,4(-/-) mice, we reexamined the role of the T2SS system. Flagellin-deficient mutants of P. aeruginosa, with mutations in the T2SS and/or T3SS, were used to infect mice. Mice were followed up for survival, with some killed at different intervals to study bacterial clearance, inflammatory responses, and lung pathology.
Strains carrying either secretion system were lethal for mice. Double mutants were avirulent. The T3SS(+) strains killed mice within a day, and the T2SS(+) strains killed them later. Mice infected with a strain that had only the T2SS were unable to eradicate the organism from the lungs, whereas those infected with a T2SS-T3SS double deletion were able to clear this mutant. Death caused by the T2SS(+) strain was accompanied by a >50-fold increase in bacterial counts and higher numbers of viable intracellular bacteria.
The T2SS of P. aeruginosa may play a role in death from pneumonia, but its action is delayed. These data suggest that antitoxin strategies against this organism will require measures against the toxins secreted by both T2SS and T3SS.
The Journal of Infectious Diseases 05/2011; 203(10):1369-77. DOI:10.1093/infdis/jir045 · 6.00 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mycobacterium bovis Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG), killed by extended freeze-drying (EFD), induces secretion of interleukin-10 and reduces lung inflammation in a mouse model of asthma. We investigated the effects of EFD BCG in mouse models of inflammatory bowel disease.
EFD BCG was administered subcutaneously to mice with colitis induced by dextran sodium sulfate (DSS), oxazolone, or adoptive transfer of CD4(+)CD45RB(high)Foxp3(-) T cells from C57Bl/6 Foxp3GFP mice to RAG2(-/-) mice.
EFD BCG, administered either before induction of DSS and oxazolone colitis or after development of acute or chronic DSS-induced colitis, reduced symptom scores, loss of body weight, and inflammation. Although transfer of CD4(+)CD45RB(high)Foxp3(-) cells induced colitis in RAG2(-/-) mice, administration of EFD BCG at the time of the transfer converted Foxp3(-) T cells to Foxp3(+) T cells and the mice did not develop colitis. EFD BCG protected mice from colitis via a mechanism that required expansion of T regulatory cells and production of interleukin-10 and transforming growth factor β. EFD BCG activated the retinoid X receptor (RXR)-α-peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)-γ heterodimer, blocked translocation of nuclear factor κB to the nucleus, and reduced colonic inflammation; it did not increase the number of colon tumors that formed in mice with chronic DSS-induced colitis.
EFD BCG controls severe colitis in mice by expanding T regulatory cell populations and PPAR-γ and might be developed to treat patients with inflammatory bowel disease.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Clin Microbiol Infect 2012; 18: 153–159
The molecular epidemiology of Helicobacter pylori in Africa is poorly documented. From January 2007 to December 2008, we investigated 187 patients with gastric symptoms in one of the main tertiary hospitals in Dakar, Senegal. One hundred and seventeen patients were culture-positive for H. pylori. Polymorphisms in vacA and cagA status were investigated by PCR; the 3′-region of cagA was sequenced, and EPIYA motifs were identified. Bacterial heterogeneity within individuals was extensively assessed by using an approach based on vacA and cagA heterogeneity. Fourteen per cent of H. pylori-positive patients displayed evidence of mixed infection, which may affect disease outcome. Patients with multiple vacA alleles were excluded from subsequent analyses. Among the final study population of 105 patients, 29 had gastritis only, 61 had ulcerated lesions, and 15 had suspicion of neoplasia based on endoscopic findings. All cases of suspected neoplasia were histologically confirmed as gastric cancer (GC). The cagA gene was present in 73.3% of isolates. CagA proteins contained zero (3.7%), one (93.9%) or two (2.4%) EPIYA-C segments, and all were western CagA. Most of the isolates possessed presumed high-vacuolization isotypes (s1i1m1 (57.1%) or s1i1m2 (21.9%)). Despite the small number of cases, GC was associated with cagA (p 0.03), two EPIYA-C segments in the C-terminal region of CagA (p 0.03), and the s1 vacA allele (p 0.002). Multiple EPIYA-C segments were less frequent than reported in other countries, possibly contributing to the low incidence of GC in Senegal.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND & AIMS:: Colon tissues of patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) have been reported to have increased proteolytic activity, but no studies have clearly addressed the protease to anti-protease balance in the pathogenesis of colitis. We investigated the role of Elafin, a serine protease inhibitor expressed by skin and mucosal surfaces in human inflammatory conditions, and the proteases neutrophil elastase (NE) and proteinase-3 (PR-3), in mice with colitis. METHODS:: We studied mice with heterozygous disruptions in NE and PR-3and 2 strains of mice that express transgenic human elafin (an inhibitor of NE and PR-3). Trinitrobenzene sulfonic acid (TNBS) or dextran sodium sulphate (DSS) was used to induce colitis. Protease and cytokine levels were measured in colonic tissues collected from the mice. CaCO(2) and HT29 cells were studied in assays for cytokine expression and permeability. RESULTS:: Mice that expressed transgenic elafin developed less colitis and had reduced levels of proteases than wild-type mice following administration of TNBS or DSS. Expression of elafin did not modify activities of elastase or PR-3, but inhibited their increase upon the induction of colitis. Mice that expressed reduced levels of NE and PR-3 were protected against DSS-induced colitis. Elafin expression altered the patterns of inflammatory mediators and strengthened intestinal epithelial barrier functions in cells and colonic tissues from mice. CONCLUSIONS:: The protease inhibitor Elafin prevents intestinal inflammation in a mouse model of colitis and might be developed as a therapeutic agent for IBD.