Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a group of disorders characterized by chronic inflammation
within the gastrointestinal tract. It is a multifactorial disease associated with immune-cell mediated oxidative
damage to the intestinal mucosa. There is no cure for IBD, but anti-cytokine therapy can limit target inflammation
and disease progression. Unfortunately, many patients are nonresponsive or develop resistance to anti-cytokine
therapy over time creating a need for new therapeutic agents. Metallothionein (MT) is a small, highly conserved
stress response protein that has been shown to modulate the immune response as a pro-inflammatory agent, regulates
divalent heavy metal homeostasis, and acts as a reactive metabolite scavenger. Our research, as well as other
groups studying MT, has described MT induction and release during IBD inflammatory stress response. The
release of MT results in activation of inflammatory responses leading to progressive inflammation and subsequent
expansion of MT synthesis. A monoclonal antibody specific for MT has been used in murine models of IBD and
should only target the extracellular pool of MT, thus representing a novel therapeutic approach to this disease.
Keywords: Inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn's disease, Ulcerative colitis, Metallothionein, biologic therapy, inflammation.
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