T Cells in Inflammatory Bowel Disease

An extensive body of work in animal models has implicated T cells, and particularly regulatory T cells (Tregs), as determinants of whether or not the intestines get inflamed.  

We have therefore extensively characterized T cells from the blood and intestines of people with and without IBD in an effort to correlate these animal model findings with disease pathogenesis. In so doing, we have learned much about how the adaptive mucosal immune system is assembled in humans, and debunked several hypothesized T cell etiologies of IBD, such as a Treg defect.

By identifying and focusing very specifically upon T cells that recognize a gut bacterial antigen (OmpC protein from E. coli), we have found differences between people with and without Crohn’s disease that may explain a fundamental role for T cells that was not evident from animal models alone.