Serum samples from 26 monozygotic twin pairs concordant or discordant with regard to inflammatory bowel disease, and rectal biopsies from 42 twins of the same subject group, were examined for IgG subclasses. They were all compared with normal controls. Almost all affected twins were in clinical remission. Paired immunofluorescence staining of the rectal mucosa showed that those with ulcerative colitis had a significantly higher (p < 0.01) proportion of IgG1 producing mucosal immunocytes than normal controls (78.1% v 55.9%). Conversely, the IgG2 cell fraction was significantly reduced (15.9% v 34.6%). Healthy twins from ulcerative colitis pairs tended to show a raised proportion of IgG1 cells and the IgG2 cell fraction was significantly reduced (p < 0.05). In discordant ulcerative colitis twin pairs, no difference appeared in the cellular IgG subclass pattern between healthy and affected twins. Furthermore, the proportion of IgG1 in these healthy and diseased twins showed good correlation (T = 0.867). The results in rectal mucosa of twins with Crohn's disease were widely scattered and affected twins did not differ significantly from normal controls. Healthy twins, however, showed a marginally raised IgG1 cell proportion, but no correlation was seen between the IgG subclass fractions in discordant Crohn's disease twin pairs. The serum concentrations of IgG1 and IgG2 did not differ from normal controls in twins of either category. These results suggested that in ulcerative colitis, the aberrant mucosal production of IgG1 and IgG2 does not depend on active disease, but is apparently at least partially explained by a genetic impact. Conversely, the mucosal IgG subclass pattern in Crohn's disease appears to be determined mainly by exogenous variables.
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