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article imageGut bacteria influence Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis

By Tim Sandle     Jan 22, 2015 in Health
New research suggests that a person’s specific genes influence whether intestinal bacteria will trigger inflammatory bowel diseases. Understanding such causes is provides knowledge to help with prevention and treatment.
Crohn's disease can potentially affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from mouth to anus. Symptoms often include: abdominal pain, diarrhea (which may be bloody if inflammation is severe), fever and weight loss. Ulcerative colitis is a disease of the colon (the largest portion of the large intestine). Symptoms include ulcers, or open sores. The main symptom of active disease is usually constant diarrhea mixed with blood. Collectively these two conditions are forms of inflammatory bowel disease; these are a group of inflammatory conditions of the colon and small intestine. The diseases are thought to be a result of the interaction of environmental and genetic factors.
New studies suggest that the intestinal bacteria (gut microbiome) that is formed in a person when they are very young has a significant impact on that person’s health as they progress through life. This is because the microbial composition affects the genetic make-up and vice versa. In some cases, groups of genes play a role in shaping the development of imbalanced gut microbes. Whilst it is noted that there are other factors at play, like age, gender, and any medication being taken, it also appears that certain imbalances can trigger inflammatory bowel diseases.
In a larger, and recent, study scientists looked at three independent cohorts of a total of 474 adults with inflammatory bowel diseases who lived in Boston, Mass. (USA); Toronto, Ontario (Canada); and Groningen (Netherlands). Samples were taken from each participant over a two year period. The samples were studied for bacteria and genes.
The data showed that the people’s DNA was linked to the bacteria in their intestines. Specifically, people with inflammatory bowel diseases had lower biodiversity of bacteria and more opportunistic bacteria.
The knowledge gleaned could be useful when developing drug treatments that target certain genes or certain products derived from the intestinal bacteria.
The findings have been published in the journal Genome Medicine. The paper is headed “Complex host genetics influence the microbiome in inflammatory bowel disease.”
More about autoimmune disease, Crohn's Disease, ulcerative colitis, microbiome, Guts
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