IL-6 signaling regulates small intestinal crypt homeostasis

Victoria Jeffery, Andrew J. Goldson, Jack R. Dainty, Marcello Chieppa, Anastasia Sobolewski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Citations (Scopus)


Gut homeostasis is a tightly regulated process requiring finely tuned complex interactions between different cell types, growth factors, or cytokines and their receptors. Previous work has implicated a role for IL-6 and mucosal immune cells in intestinal regeneration following injury and in promoting inflammation and cancer. We hypothesized that IL-6 signaling could also modulate crypt homeostasis. Using mouse in vitro crypt organoid and in vivo models, this study first demonstrated that exogenous IL-6 promoted crypt organoid proliferation and increased stem cell numbers through pSTAT3 activation in Paneth cells. Immunolabeling studies showed that the IL-6 receptor was restricted to the basal membrane of Paneth cells both in vitro and in vivo and that the crypt epithelium also expressed IL-6. Either a blocking Ab to the IL-6 receptor or a neutralizing Ab to IL-6 significantly reduced in vitro basal crypt organoid proliferation and budding, and in vivo significantly reduced the number of nuclei and the number of Lgr5EGFP-positive stem cells per crypt compared with IgG-treated mice, with the number of Paneth cells per crypt also significantly reduced. Functional studies demonstrated that IL-6-induced in vitro crypt organoid proliferation and crypt budding was abrogated by the Wnt inhibitor IWP2. This work demonstrates that autocrine IL-6 signaling in the gut epithelium regulates crypt homeostasis through the Paneth cells and the Wnt signaling pathway.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)304-311
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number1
Early online date19 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017

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