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CCR9-expressing CD14+HLA-DRhi blood monocytes promote intestinal inflammation in IBD


Circulating monocytes have been demonstrated to relocate to the intestinal mucosa during intestinal inflammation, but the underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood. Here, we have investigated a subpopulation of blood monocytes expressing high levels of HLA-DR, CCR9 and CCR7 in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Materials and methods

51 patients with mild-to-severe ulcerative colitis (UC) or Crohn’s disease (CD) were included together with 14 controls. The frequency of CD14+HLA-DRhi monocytes was monitored weekly in peripheral blood using flow cytometry. The surface phenotype and cytokine profile of these monocytes were established using flow cytometry and real-time PCR.


The frequency of CD14+HLA-DRhi monocytes was significantly higher in IBD patients with moderate-to-severe disease compared to healthy controls. Furthermore, these monocytes correlated to disease activity in patients with UC and CD. CD14+HLA-DRhi monocytes are defined by their high production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and their surface expression of CCR7 and CCR9.


CD14+HLA-DRhi blood monocytes were increased in patients with active inflammatory bowel disease. These monocytes exhibit a pro-inflammatory gut-homing phenotype with regards to their production of inflammatory mediators and expression of CCR9. Our results suggest that these monocytes are important in mediating intestinal inflammation, and provide potential therapeutic targets in IBD.

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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( ), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Linton, L., Karlsson, M., Grundström, J. et al. CCR9-expressing CD14+HLA-DRhi blood monocytes promote intestinal inflammation in IBD. J Transl Med 9 (Suppl 2), P32 (2011).

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