Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is an immunologically mediated chronic intestinal disorder. Growth hormone (GH) administration enhances mucosal repair and decreases intestinal fibrosis in patients with IBD. In the present study, we investigated the effect of cellular sensitivity to GH via suppressor of cytokine signaling 2 (SOCS2) deletion on colitis and recovery. To induce colitis, wild type and SOCS2 knockout (SOCS2−/−) mice were treated with 3% dextran sodium sulphate (DSS), followed by a recovery period. SOCS2−/− mice showed higher disease activity during colitis with increased mRNA expression of the pro-inflammatory cytokines nitric oxide synthase 2 (NOS2) and interleukin 1 β (IL1-β). At recovery time point, SOCS2−/− showed better recovery with less fibrosis measured by levels of α-SMA and collagen deposition. Protein and mRNA expressions of transforming growth factor beta β1 (TGF-β1) receptors were significantly lower in SOCS2−/− mice compared to wild-type littermates. Using an in vivo bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) proliferation assay, SOCS2−/− mice showed higher intestinal epithelial proliferation compared to wild-type mice. Our results demonstrated that deletion of the SOCS2 protein results in higher growth hormone sensitivity associated with higher pro-inflammatory signaling; however, it resulted in less tissue damage with less fibrotic lesions and higher epithelial proliferation, which are markers of GH-protective effects in IBD. This suggests a pleiotropic effect of SOCS2 and multiple cellular targets. Further study is required to study role of SOCS2 in regulation of TGFβ-mothers against the decapentaplegic homolog (Smad) pathway.
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