Background Tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) is a cytokine elevated in inflammatory bowel disease enterocutaneous fistula (IBD ECF). Dendritic cells are antigen presenting cells that orchestrate the immune responses and regulate the production of cytokines by immune cells including T cells. No study to date has assessed the level of TNF-α or the presence of dendritic cells in non-IBD ECF. The aim of this study was to assess the inflammatory activity, with a particular emphasis on TNF-α in non-IBD ECF when compared with control small bowel tissue. Methods Tissue biopsies were obtained from ECF at operation from non-IBD patients and from terminal ileum in normal colonoscopy control patients. After overnight culture, accumulation of intracellular TNF-α was measured by flow cytometry in cells treated with monensin to assess the on-going cytokine production. Data were acquired using FACS Canto II. Unpaired Student's t-test was used to compare variables between groups and p < 0.05 was regarded as significant. Results The on-going production of TNF-α from dendritic cells (p = 0.0007), putative monocyte and B cell populations (p = 0.04) and CD3+ T cells (p = 0.04) was significantly higher in non-IBD ECF tissue than that from control tissue. Conclusions This study reveals results which provide evidence for the potential use of anti-TNF-α agents in the treatment of non-IBD ECF. A pilot study to evaluate this treatment as an alternative option in an already surgically challenging group of patients is planned. Positive findings would be a major medical advance with a new use for anti-TNF-α agents.
G., R., J., W., A.L., H., P.J., T., M.R., U., G.P., T., … C.J., V. (2017). Pilot study of immunological factors in non-inflammatory bowel disease enterocutaneous fistulas. International Journal of Surgery, 41, 127–133. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijsu.2017.03.079