This is, to our knowledge, the first study investigating TREC levels in IBD patients. Here we demonstrate equal levels
of TRECs in peripheral blood between IBD patients and healthy controls but increased levels of TRECs in the intestinal mucosa of UC patients, but not CD patients, compared to uninflamed controls. In addition to the increased TREC levels in the colon of UC patients, these patients also demonstrated selleck high frequencies of CD3+CD4+ T cells expressing the adhesion molecule L-selectin (CD62L+) but with low expression of CD45RA. We also demonstrated that age has a low impact on the levels of TRECs in the intestinal mucosa and that disease activity did not affect TREC levels in either peripheral blood or the intestinal mucosa. As no increased extrathymic AZD8055 research buy maturation was found in the intestinal mucosa, this strongly suggests that the increased levels of TRECs in the intestinal mucosa of UC patients reflect recent thymic emigrants (RTE) being recruited directly to the mucosa. Substantial
efforts have been devoted to identify a phenotype for RTE and candidate T cell surface markers exist for chicken (chT1) [19,20] and rats (Thy-1, RT6) . For humans, two markers have recently been proposed: CD31 and CD103, both being present on thymocytes at a late stage of development but being lost quickly after T cell entrance into the periphery. However, although the amount of CD31+ T cells Metalloexopeptidase are reduced with increasing age [22–24], the TREC levels within the CD31+ T cell population are also declined , suggesting a certain degree of in vivo turnover of CD31+ T cells with ageing. Thus, we believe that TREC content is at present the most reliable marker for recent thymic emigrants, at least when investigating both CD4+ and CD8+ T lymphocytes in the gut mucosa. TREC quantification
has been used to monitor T lymphocyte ontogeny in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS)  and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) [26,27]. In line with our findings in UC patients, both studies reported decreased levels of TREC in peripheral blood lymphocytes from patients, compared to healthy controls [25,27]. However, neither study evaluated TREC levels in the affected tissue, the central nervous system (CNS) and joints, respectively. TREC levels in the intestinal mucosa were generally much lower than in peripheral blood in control subjects. This is consistent with the fact that the gut mucosa predominantly contains memory/effector T lymphocyte populations, in which the TRECs will be diluted due to extensive previous proliferation. When comparing TREC content in the three different IEL fractions obtained during the isolation procedure, we found that the number of individuals with positive TREC levels increased from the first to the third fraction in UC patients.