Scientists find the cause of inflammatory bowel disease

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Chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is becoming increasingly widespread. Until now, however, the underlying causes of the inflammation responses were unclear.

In a new study from the Technical University of Munich, researchers found a mechanism that triggers a problematic interaction between intestinal bacteria and cells in the intestinal mucus layer in XLP2, a condition associated with IBD.

The team believes that the results can be applied to other intestinal diseases and could offer approaches to the development of new drugs.

The billions of bacteria living in the human gut—known collectively as the microbiome—are of enormous importance. They help with digestion, among other functions.

Consequently, the immune system in the gut must be extremely well regulated: It should fight only harmful pathogens without attacking useful microorganisms. However, this fine balance can be disrupted by various factors.

A defect in the gene XIAP, which causes the rare disease XLP2, results in chronic inflammation of the bowels in 30 percent of all cases, among other symptoms.

Until now, scientists have been unable to understand the underlying mechanism or discover effective treatments.

In the study, the team identified the mechanism behind the inflammation response and learned how it becomes chronic.

They found the innate immune system overreacts to microbes in the gut.

The immune system in healthy people eliminates bacteria that cause illness and then returns to its resting state.

But in some XLP2 patients, the researchers found a fatal chain reaction

They believe that this finding might also be applicable to other inflammatory bowel diseases and not only in XLP2 patients.

Malfunctioning gut cells have also been observed in many patients with inflammatory bowel diseases with various causes.

These insights might open up important avenues for the development of new drugs.

Patients with chronic bowel inflammation have been treated for many years with drugs that inhibit the TNF receptors. However, these molecules are not very specific and deactivate both TNFR1 and TNFR2.

The team would now like to turn its attention to the adaptive immune system, which learns throughout an individual’s lifetime through contact with pathogens and forms special antigens and also study its special role in the gut.

If you care about bowel health, please read studies about more effective at-home treatment for common bowel diseases, and diet that could reduce common bowel disease most effectively.

For more information about bowel health, please see recent studies that healthy teeth and gum may help prevent common bowel diseases, and results showing that scientists develop a new way to treat common bowel diseases.

The study is published in Science Immunology and was conducted by Dr. Monica Yabal et al.

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