Objectives: 1) To determine if endothelial expression of adhesion molecules involved in leukocyte recruitment is increased in the brain and other organs in four different models of experimental colitis, and 2) to investigate whether leukocyte infiltration occurs in the brain of colitic animals. Methods: Endothelial vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) expression was quantified, using the dual radiolabeled antibody technique in rats with trinitrobenzenesulfonic acid (TNBS)-induced colitis, in mice with dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced colitis, in SCID mice reconstituted with CD45RBhigh T-cells, and in IL-10-/- mice. Leukocyte infiltration in the brain of TNBS-induced colitic rats was assessed by myeloperoxidase activity and immunohistochemical staining with anti-CD45 monoclonal antibody. Results: Marked upregulation of brain endothelial VCAM-1 (2-to 5.5-fold) was consistently found in colitic animals in the four models studied. Brain VCAM-1 strongly correlated with colon VCAM-1 and colon weight. By contrast, upregulation of brain ICAM-1 in colitic animals was only observed in the CD45RBhigh transfer (3-fold) and the TNBS-induced (1.5-fold models). Heart and muscle VCAM-1 and ICAM-1 were not upregulated in colitic animals in the majority of models studied. There was no leukocyte infiltration into the brain of TNBS-induced colitic rats. Conclusions: Our study demonstrates a marked and specific upregulation of endothelial VCAM-1 in the brain of colitic animals. This activation of cerebral endothelial cells was not associated with an infiltration of leukocytes into brain tissue.
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