Mitochondrial damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) in inflammatory bowel disease
Boyapati, Ray Kiran
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Background The inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease (CD) are chronic relapsing inflammatory disorders which have a rising incidence and cause significant morbidity. There are currently several treatment options with many more in the drug pipeline, but there are a lack of accurate biomarkers for decisions on treatment choice, assessment of disease activity and prognostication. There is a growing interest and desire for personalised or ‘precision’ medicine in IBD where novel biomarkers may help individualise IBD care in terms of diagnosis, choice of therapy, monitoring of response and detection of relapse. One class of functionally active biomarkers which have yet to be thoroughly investigated in IBD is damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) including mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). It has been recently shown that gut mitochondrial dysfunction can result in loss of epithelial barrier function and the development of colitis. Mitochondrial DAMPs have recently been described as elevated in several inflammatory diseases. Hypothesis The primary hypothesis of this thesis is that circulating levels of mtDNA is elevated in IBD. Secondary hypotheses are: (a) levels of other mitochondrial DAMPs are elevated in IBD, (b) circulating mtDNA can be used as a novel biomarker in IBD and (c) mtDNA is released locally at sites of inflammation in IBD. Methods Plasma and serum were collected prospectively from recruited IBD patients and non-IBD controls. Faeces and colonic tissue were collected from a subset of these patients. mtDNA in serum, plasma and faeces was measured using qPCR (amplifying COXIII/ND2 genes). Mass spectrometry was used to detect mitochondrial formylated peptides in the plasma of a subset of patients. IBD tissue was assessed for (a) mitochondrial damage using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and (b) TLR9 expression, the target for mtDNA. Results 97 patients with IBD (67 UC and 30 CD), and 40 non-IBD controls were recruited. Plasma mtDNA levels were increased in UC and CD (both p<0.0001) compared to non-IBD controls; with significant correlations with blood (CRP, albumin, white cell count), clinical and endoscopic markers of severity; and disease activity. In active UC, we detected significantly higher circulating mitochondrial formylated peptides and faecal mtDNA levels (vs. non-IBD controls [p<0.01 and <0.0001 respectively]) with demonstrable TEM evidence of intestinal mucosal mitochondrial damage. In active IBD, TLR9+ lamina propria inflammatory cells were significantly higher in UC/CD compared to controls (both p<0.05). Conclusions Taken together, the findings suggest mtDNA is released during active inflammation in inflammatory bowel disease and is a potential novel mechanistic biomarker.