(Newswise)–Millions of people are afflicted with inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, and 30 percent of new cases occur in childhood. Mucin 1 (MUC1), an epithelial mucin that has been shown to elicit both an immune response and to have altered glycosylation in disease, may be a noninvasive indicator of the progression of these illnesses.
Healthy and diseased colon specimens from pediatric patients were tested to determine levels of MUC1. Results are reported in the current issue of the journal “Pediatric and Developmental Pathology.”
Evidence of an increase in the expression of MUC1 as well as hypoglycosylation of this mucin were found in diseased colon specimens. In patients with colon cancer or other epithelial tumors, antibodies to MUC1 are found. This increase in MUC1 and the presence of anti-MUC1 antibodies could be used to diagnose or predict pediatric inflammatory bowel disease.
Healthy, age-matched specimens were used as controls. These specimens showed low levels of MUC1 and no alteration in its glycosylation. Fluctuation of MUC1 antibodies may therefore correlate with the severity of inflammatory bowel disease. This discovery could provide a noninvasive and inexpensive way to monitor not only the disease, but the effectiveness of therapy.
Though the sample size of this study was small, the data supports the need for a larger prospective study of the role aberrant MUC1 might play in inflammatory bowel disease and its progression to cancer.