Fibrostenosis and stricture are well-recognized endpoints in Crohn's disease (CD). We hypothesized that stricturing CD is characterized by eosinophilia and epithelial IL-33. We proposed that eosinophil exposure to IL-33 would perpetuate inflammatory chronicity and subsequent fibrostenosis.
We performed a retrospective study of 74 children with inflammatory and stricturing ileal CD comparing clinicopathological features to immunohistochemical measures of eosinophilia and IL-33. To scrutinize eosinophil patterns, we developed a novel eosinophil peroxidase score encompassing number, distribution, and degranulation. Human eosinophils and intestinal fibroblasts were cultured with IL-33 and IL-13, and inflammatory and remodeling parameters were assessed. Antieosinophil therapy was also administered to the Crohn's-like ileitis model (SAMP1/SkuSlc).
Our novel eosinophil peroxidase score was more sensitive than H&E staining, revealing significant differences in eosinophil patterns, comparing inflammatory and stricturing pediatric CD. A significant relationship between ileal eosinophilia and complicated clinical/histopathological phenotype including fibrosis was determined. IL-33 induced significant eosinophil peroxidase secretion and IL-13 production. Exposure to eosinophils in the presence of IL-33, "primed" fibroblasts to increase proinflammatory cytokines (TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-6), eosinophil-associated chemokines (CCL24 and CCL26), and IL-13Rα2 production. Production of fibrogenic molecules (collagen 1A2, fibronectin, and periostin) increased after exposure of "primed" fibroblasts to IL-13. Epithelial-IL-33 was increased in pediatric Crohn's ileitis and strongly associated with clinical and histopathological activity, ileal eosinophilia, and complicated fibrostenotic disease. SAMP1/SkuSlc eosinophil-targeted treatment resulted in significant improvements in inflammation and remodeling.
Our study of specimens from pediatric patients with ileal CD linked eosinophil patterns and IL-33 to fibrosis and suggested that these may contribute to the perpetuation of inflammation and subsequent stricture in pediatric CD.