Table of Contents
Volume 2011, Article ID 391787, 5 pages
Review Article

Cytokine Networks in Ulcerative Colitis

Department of Clinical Medicine, Gastroenterology Unit, S. Orsola-Malpighi Hospital, Via Massarenti 9, 40138 Bologna, Italy

Received 15 September 2010; Accepted 27 December 2010

Academic Editor: Hiromi Sanada

Copyright © 2011 Giulia Roda et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a relapsing inflammatory bowel disease whose pathogenesis has yet to be defined completely. A genetic predisposition is needed to develop the colitis, but environmental factors are necessary to trigger an exaggerated and aberrant immune response, which stands at the basis of the mucosal healing. Cytokines, small cell-signaling protein molecules secreted by various types of cells including immune and glia cells, are the main mediators of the mucosal healing in IBD; ulcerative colitis is characterized by a Th2 atypical immune response, since, beside the classical proinflammatory cytokines, such as IL-1, IL-6, and TNF-α, in the pathogenesis of UC, we find a complex network in which the Th2 cytokines, IL-10 and IL-13, play a key role, but little IL-4 was found. Our aim was to review the literature to point out the state of the art in terms of cytokines because the knowledge of cytokine network in UC could lead to the discovery of new therapeutical targets.