Rosen MJ, Chaturvedi R, Washington MK, Kuhnhein LA, Moore PD, Coggeshall SS, McDonough EM, Weitkamp JH, Singh AB, Coburn LA, Williams CS, Yan F, Van Kaer L, Peebles RS, Wilson KT. STAT6 deficiency ameliorates severity of oxazolone colitis by decreasing expression of claudin-2 and Th2-inducing cytokines. Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950). 2013 Feb 15;190(190). 1849-58. PMID: 23303670 [PubMed] PMCID: PMC3563924 NIHMSID: NIHMS429397.
Patients suffering from ulcerative colitis (UC) exhibit chronic colonic inflammation caused by a dysregulated mucosal immune response and epithelial barrier disruption. Th2 cytokines, including IL-13, have been implicated in the pathogenesis of UC. IL-13 induces phosphorylation of STAT6, and we previously demonstrated increased epithelial p-STAT6 in children with UC. In this study, we investigated the role of STAT6 in oxazolone colitis, a murine model of UC, by inducing colitis in STAT6-deficient (STAT6(-/-)) and wild type (WT) mice. We observed increased epithelial cell, T cell, macrophage, and NKT cell STAT6 phosphorylation, as well as increased p-STAT6(+) IL-13-producing NKT cells, in colitic WT mice. Colitis was attenuated in STAT6(-/-) mice, with improvements in weight, colon length, and histopathology. There was decreased induction of the pore-forming tight junction protein claudin-2 in STAT6(-/-) mice. Similarly, short hairpin RNA STAT6 knockdown reduced claudin-2 induction and transepithelial resistance decrease in IL-13-treated human T84 cells. Tissue expression of IL-13, IFN-γ, IL-17, and IL-10 mRNA was similarly induced in WT and STAT6(-/-) colitic mice; however, we observed increased mRNA expression for the Th2-inducing cytokines IL-33 and thymic stromal lymphopoietin in WT mice with colitis, which was abrogated in STAT6(-/-) mice. Mesenteric lymph node cells from STAT6(-/-) mice with colitis exhibited reduced secretion of IL-4, IL-5, IL-13, and IFN-γ. IL-33 augmented mesenteric lymph node cell secretion of IL-5, IL-13, IL-6, and IFN-γ. These data implicate STAT6 in the pathogenesis of colitis in vivo with important roles in altering epithelial barrier function and regulating Th2-inducing cytokine production.