Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a devastating disease that is associated with excessive inflammation in the intestinal tract in genetically susceptible individuals and potentially triggered by microbial dysbiosis. This illness markedly predisposes patients to thrombophilia and chronic debility as well as bowel, lymphatic, and liver cancers. Development of new therapies is needed to re-establish long-term immune tolerance in IBD patients without increasing the risk of opportunistic infections and cancer. Aberrant purinergic signaling pathways have been implicated in disordered thromboregulation and immune dysregulation, as noted in the pathogenesis of IBD and other gastrointestinal/hepatic autoimmune diseases. Expression of CD39 on endothelial or immune cells allows for homeostatic integration of hemostasis and immunity, which are disrupted in IBD. Our focus in this review is on novel aspects of the functions of CD39 and related NTPDases in IBD. Regulated CD39 activity allows for scavenging of extracellular nucleotides, the maintenance of P2-receptor integrity and coordination of adenosinergic signaling responses. CD39 together with CD73, serves as an integral component of the immunosuppressive machinery of dendritic cells, myeloid cells, T and B cells. Genetic inheritance and environental factors closely regulate the levels of expression and phosphohydrolytic activity of CD39, both on immune cells and released microparticles. Purinergic mechanisms associated with T regulatory and supressor T helper type 17 cells modulate disease activity in IBD, as can be modeled in experimental colitis. As a recent example, upregulation of CD39 is dependent upon ligation of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR), as with natural ligands such as bilirubin and 2-(1′ H-indole-3′-carbonyl)-thiazole-4-carboxylic acid methyl ester (ITE). Decreased expression of CD39 and/or dysfunctional AHR signaling, however, abrogates the protective effects of immunosuppressive AHR ligands. These factors could also serve as biomarkers of disease activity in IBD. Heightened thrombosis, inflammation, and immune disturbances as seen in IBD appear to be associated with aberrant purinergic signaling. Ongoing development of therapeutic strategies augmenting CD39 ectonucleotidase bioactivity via cytokines or AHR ligands offers promise for management of thrombophilia, disordered inflammation, and aberrant immune reactivity in IBD.
Journal of Molecular Medicine – Springer Journals
Published: May 26, 2017
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