Published online Feb 7, 2011. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v17.i5.578
Revised: June 29, 2010
Accepted: July 6, 2010
Published online: February 7, 2011
Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are a complex group of diseases involving alterations in mucosal immunity and gastrointestinal physiology during both initiation and progressive phases of the disease. At the core of these alterations are endothelial cells, whose continual adjustments in structure and function coordinate vascular supply, immune cell emigration, and regulation of the tissue environment. Expansion of the endothelium in IBD (angiogenesis), mediated by inflammatory growth factors, cytokines and chemokines, is a hallmark of active gut disease and is closely related to disease severity. The endothelium in newly formed or inflamed vessels differs from that in normal vessels in the production of and response to inflammatory cytokines, growth factors, and adhesion molecules, altering coagulant capacity, barrier function and blood cell recruitment in injury. This review examines the roles of the endothelium in the initiation and propagation of IBD pathology and distinctive features of the intestinal endothelium contributing to these conditions.