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For a more detailed list of our work, please visit our PubMed profile.

Autophagy in Crohn’s Disease: Converging on Dysfunctional Innate Immunity


Cells. 2023 Jul 4;12(13):1779. doi: 10.3390/cells12131779

Crohn’s disease (CD) is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease marked by relapsing, transmural intestinal inflammation driven by innate and adaptive immune responses. Autophagy is a multi-step process that plays a critical role in maintaining cellular homeostasis by degrading intracellular components, such as damaged organelles and invading bacteria. Dysregulation of autophagy in CD is revealed by the identification of several susceptibility genes, including ATG16L1, IRGM, NOD2, LRRK2, ULK1, ATG4, and TCF4, that are involved in autophagy. As our understanding of autophagy in CD pathogenesis evolves, the development of autophagy-targeted therapeutics may benefit subsets of patients harboring impaired autophagy.

Inner mitochondrial membrane protein Prohibitin 1 mediates Nix-induced, Parkin-independent mitophagy


Sci Rep 13, 18 (2023).

Autophagy of damaged mitochondria, called mitophagy, is an important organelle quality control process involved in the pathogenesis of inflammation, cancer, aging, and age-associated diseases. Many of these disorders are associated with altered expression of the inner mitochondrial membrane (IMM) protein Prohibitin 1. The mechanisms whereby dysfunction occurring internally at the IMM and matrix activate events at the outer mitochondrial membrane (OMM) to induce mitophagy are not fully elucidated. Using the gastrointestinal epithelium as a model system highly susceptible to autophagy inhibition, we reveal a specific role of Prohibitin-induced mitophagy in maintaining intestinal homeostasis. We demonstrate that Prohibitin 1 induces mitophagy in response to increased mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) through binding to mitophagy receptor Nix/Bnip3L and independently of Parkin. Prohibitin 1 is required for ROS-induced Nix localization to mitochondria and maintaining homeostasis of epithelial cells highly susceptible to mitochondrial dysfunction.

Mitochondria and Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: Toward a Stratified Therapeutic Intervention

Mitochondria serve numerous critical cellular functions, rapidly responding to extracellular stimuli and cellular demands while dynamically communicating with other organelles. Mitochondrial function in the gastrointestinal epithelium plays a critical role in maintaining intestinal health. Emerging studies implicate the involvement of mitochondrial dysfunction in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). This review presents mitochondrial metabolism, function, and quality control that converge in intestinal epithelial stemness, differentiation programs, barrier integrity, and innate immunity to influence intestinal inflammation. Intestinal and disease characteristics that set the stage for mitochondrial dysfunction being a key factor in IBD and, in turn, pathogenic mitochondrial mechanisms influencing and potentiating the development of IBD, are discussed. These findings establish the basis for potential mitochondrial-targeted interventions for IBD therapy.


Annual Review of Physiology (2022) 84:1, 435-459. doi: 10.1146/annurev-physiol-060821-083306

Mitochondrial dysfunction during loss of prohibitin 1 triggers Paneth cell defects and ileitis

Objective: Although perturbations in mitochondrial function and structure have been described in the intestinal epithelium of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis patients, the role of epithelial mitochondrial stress in the pathophysiology of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) is not well elucidated. Prohibitin 1 (PHB1), a major component protein of the inner mitochondrial membrane crucial for optimal respiratory chain assembly and function, is decreased during IBD.

Design: Male and female mice with inducible intestinal epithelial cell deletion of Phb1 (Phb1iΔIEC ) or Paneth cell-specific deletion of Phb1 (Phb1ΔPC ) and Phb1fl/fl control mice were housed up to 20 weeks to characterise the impact of PHB1 deletion on intestinal homeostasis. To suppress mitochondrial reactive oxygen species, a mitochondrial-targeted antioxidant, Mito-Tempo, was administered. To examine epithelial cell-intrinsic responses, intestinal enteroids were generated from crypts of Phb1iΔIEC or Phb1ΔPC mice.

Results: Phb1iΔIEC mice exhibited spontaneous ileal inflammation that was preceded by mitochondrial dysfunction in all IECs and early abnormalities in Paneth cells. Mito-Tempo ameliorated mitochondrial dysfunction, Paneth cell abnormalities and ileitis in Phb1iΔIEC ileum. Deletion of Phb1 specifically in Paneth cells (Phb1ΔPC ) was sufficient to cause ileitis. Intestinal enteroids generated from crypts of Phb1iΔIEC or Phb1ΔPC mice exhibited decreased viability and Paneth cell defects that were improved by Mito-Tempo.

Conclusion: Our results identify Paneth cells as highly susceptible to mitochondrial dysfunction and central to the pathogenesis of ileitis, with translational implications for the subset of Crohn's disease patients exhibiting Paneth cell defects.


Gut (2020) 69:1928-1938. doi: 10.1136/gutjnl-2019-319523

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