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1.  Blastocystis Is Associated with Decrease of Fecal Microbiota Protective Bacteria: Comparative Analysis between Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Control Subjects 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e111868.
Blastocystis is a protistan parasite living in the digestive tract of many animals, including humans. This highly prevalent intestinal parasite is suspected to be linked to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), a chronic functional bowel disorder. Here, we first compared the prevalence of Blastocystis among 56 IBS patients (40 IBS with constipation (IBS-C), 9 IBS with diarrhea (IBS-D), 4 mixed IBS (IBS-M) and 3 unsubtyped IBS (IBS-U) according to the Rome III criteria) and 56 control (i.e. without any diagnosed chronic or acute gastrointestinal disorder) subjects. The highest prevalence of Blastocystis spp. was observed in the IBS group, but was only statistically significant in men (36.8% in the IBS group versus 4.8% in the control group). We then conducted a meta-analysis including epidemiological studies attempting to determine whether Blastocystis carriage could be linked to IBS, and highlighted that IBS patients had a relative risk of 2.34 to be infected by Blastocystis when compared to non-IBS subjects. We also looked for Dientamoeba fragilis, which is often associated with IBS, and identified this parasite only in some IBS patients (n = 6/56). Several studies provided evidence for a major role of the gut microbiota in the pathophysiology of IBS. Thus, we investigated the possible impact of Blastocystis carriage on the enteric bacterial community through quantification of 8 major bacterial groups from the enteric flora. Our data indicated that men with IBS-C had a significant decrease in Bifidobacterium sp. when infected by Blastocystis. Interestingly, in control subjects (i.e. without any gastrointestinal disorder) positive for Blastocystis, Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, which is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, was significantly decreased in men. Our results support the hypothesis that Blastocystis might be linked to the pathophysiology of IBS-C and intestinal flora imbalance.
PMCID: PMC4218853  PMID: 25365580
2.  Comparison of Methods for Detection of Blastocystis Infection in Routinely Submitted Stool Samples, and also in IBS/IBD Patients in Ankara, Turkey 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(11):e15484.
This study compared diagnostic methods for identifying Blastocystis in stool samples, and evaluated the frequency of detection of Blastocystis in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Results and Discussion
From a set of 105 stool specimens submitted for routine parasitological analysis, 30 were identified as positive for Blastocystis by the culture method. From that group of 30 positives, Lugol's stain, trichrome staining, and an immunofluorescence assay identified 11, 15, and 26 samples as positive respectively. Using culture as a standard, the sensitivity of Lugol's stain was 36.7%, trichrome staining was 50%, and the IFA stain was 86.7%. The specificity of Lugol's stain was 91%, trichrome staining was 100%, and the IFA stain was 97.3%. In the group of 27 IBS and IBD patients, using all methods combined, we detected Blastocystis in 67% (18/27) of the patients. Blastocystis was detected in 33% (2/6) of IBD patients and 76% (16/21) of IBS patients. For comparison, trichrome staining alone, the method most frequently used in many countries, would have only identified Blastocystis infection in 29% (6/21) of the IBS patients. No parasitic co-infections were identified in the IBS/IBD patients. Most Blastocystis-positive IBS/IBD patients were over 36 with an average length of illness of 4.9 years.
Most IBS patients in this study were infected with Blastocystis. IFA staining may be a useful alternative to stool culture, especially if stool specimens have been chemically preserved.
PMCID: PMC2987810  PMID: 21124983
3.  Location and Pathogenic Potential of Blastocystis in the Porcine Intestine 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e103962.
Blastocystis is an ubiquitous, enteric protozoan of humans and many other species. Human infection has been associated with gastrointestinal disease such as irritable bowel syndrome, however, this remains unproven. A relevant animal model is needed to investigate the pathogenesis/pathogenicity of Blastocystis. We concluded previously that pigs are likely natural hosts of Blastocystis with a potentially zoonotic, host-adapted subtype (ST), ST5, and may make suitable animal models. In this study, we aimed to characterise the host-agent interaction of Blastocystis and the pig, including localising Blastocystis in porcine intestine using microscopy, PCR and histopathological examination of tissues. Intestines from pigs in three different management systems, i.e., a commercial piggery, a small family farm and a research herd (where the animals were immunosuppressed) were examined. This design was used to determine if environment or immune status influences intestinal colonisation of Blastocystis as immunocompromised individuals may potentially be more susceptible to blastocystosis and development of associated clinical signs. Intestines from all 28 pigs were positive for Blastocystis with all pigs harbouring ST5. In addition, the farm pigs had mixed infections with STs 1 and/or 3. Blastocystis organisms/DNA were predominantly found in the large intestine but were also detected in the small intestine of the immunosuppressed and some of the farm pigs, suggesting that immunosuppression and/or husbandry factors may influence Blastocystis colonisation of the small intestine. No obvious pathology was observed in the histological sections. Blastocystis was present as vacuolar/granular forms and these were found within luminal material or in close proximity to epithelial cells, with no evidence of attachment or invasion. These results concur with most human studies, in which Blastocystis is predominantly found in the large intestine in the absence of significant organic pathology. Our findings also support the use of pigs as animal models and may have implications for blastocystosis diagnosis/treatment.
PMCID: PMC4122384  PMID: 25093578
4.  Blastocystis Isolates from Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and from Asymptomatic Carriers Exhibit Similar Parasitological Loads, but Significantly Different Generation Times and Genetic Variability across Multiple Subtypes 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(4):e0124006.
Blastocystis spp is a common intestinal parasite of humans and animals that has been associated to the etiology of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS); however, some studies have not found this association. Furthermore, many biological features of Blastocystis are little known. The objective of present study was to assess the generation times of Blastocystis cultures, from IBS patients and from asymptomatic carriers. A total of 100 isolates were obtained from 50 IBS patients and from 50 asymptomatic carriers. Up to 50 mg of feces from each participant were cultured in Barret’s and in Pavlova’s media during 48 h. Initial and final parasitological load were measured by microscopy and by quantitative PCR. Amplicons were purified, sequenced and submitted to GenBank; sequences were analysed for genetic diversity and a Bayesian inference allowed identifying genetic subtypes (ST). Generation times for Blastocystis isolates in both media, based on microscopic measures and molecular assays, were calculated. The clinical symptoms of IBS patients and distribution of Blastocystis ST 1, 2 and 3 in both groups was comparable to previous reports. Interestingly, the group of cases showed scarce mean nucleotide diversity (π) as compared to the control group (0.011±0.016 and 0.118±0.177, respectively), whilst high gene flow and small genetic differentiation indexes between different ST were found. Besides, Tajima’s D test showed negative values for ST1-ST3. No statistical differences regarding parasitological load between cases and controls in both media, as searched by microscopy and by qPCR, were detected except that parasites grew faster in Barret’s than in Pavlova’s medium. Interestingly, slow growth of isolates recovered from cases in comparison to those of controls was observed (p<0.05). We propose that generation times of Blastocystis might be easily affected by intestinal environmental changes due to IBS probably because virulent strains with slow growth may be selected, reducing their genetic variability.
PMCID: PMC4414267  PMID: 25923708
5.  Oh my aching gut: irritable bowel syndrome, Blastocystis, and asymptomatic infection 
Parasites & Vectors  2008;1:40.
Blastocystis is a prevalent enteric protozoan that infects a variety of vertebrates. Infection with Blastocystis in humans has been associated with abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, skin rash, and other symptoms. Researchers using different methods and examining different patient groups have reported asymptomatic infection, acute symptomatic infection, and chronic symptomatic infection. The variation in accounts has lead to disagreements concerning the role of Blastocystis in human disease, and the importance of treating it. A better understanding of the number of species of Blastocystis that can infect humans, along with realization of the limitations of the existing clinical laboratory diagnostic techniques may account for much of the disagreement. The possibility that disagreement was caused by the emergence of particular pathogenic variants of Blastocystis is discussed, along with the potential role of Blastocystis infection in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Findings are discussed concerning the role of protease-activated receptor-2 in enteric disease which may account for the presence of abdominal pain and diffuse symptoms in Blastocystis infection, even in the absence of fever and endoscopic findings. The availability of better diagnostic techniques and treatments for Blastocystis infection may be of value in understanding chronic gastrointestinal illness of unknown etiology.
PMCID: PMC2627840  PMID: 18937874
6.  Parasites in Mexican patients with irritable bowel syndrome: a case-control study 
Parasites & Vectors  2010;3:96.
One hundred and fifteen patients with symptoms suggestive of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) according to Rome III criteria and 209 patients with gastrointestinal symptoms different from IBS (control) were identified through medical records from the Gastroenterology Clinic of the "Dr. Manuel Gea Gonzalez General Hospital" from January 2008 to March 2010. No statistical differences in IBS data as compared with control groups were observed except in bloating, that was more frequent in the IBS group (P = 0.043). Although the pathogenicity of specific intestinal protozoa could not be demonstrated due to lack of association with the development of gastrointestinal symptoms, Blastocystis spp, in the IBS group, exhibited a trend of association to diarrhoea (odds ratio = 2.73, 95% confidence interval = 0.84-8.80, P = 0.053), while having any parasite and diarrhoea was significant (odds ratio = 3.38, 95% confidence interval = 1.33-8.57, P = 0.008). The association between Blastocystis and diarrhoea in IBS patients although not conclusive is an interesting finding; nonetheless more extensive case-controlled studies are required to clearly define the role of some "non-pathogenic" parasites in intestinal disease and IBS.
PMCID: PMC2964652  PMID: 20942938
7.  Differential Regulation of Proinflammatory Cytokine Expression by Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases in Macrophages in Response to Intestinal Parasite Infection 
Infection and Immunity  2014;82(11):4789-4801.
Blastocystis is a common enteric protistan parasite that can cause acute, as well as chronic, infection and is associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). However, the pathogenic status of Blastocystis infection remains unclear. In this study, we found that Blastocystis antigens induced abundant expression of proinflammatory cytokines, including interleukin 1β (IL-1β), IL-6, and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), in mouse intestinal explants, in mouse colitis colon, and in macrophages. Further investigation utilizing RAW264.7 murine macrophages showed that Blastocystis treatment in RAW264.7 macrophages induced the activation of ERK, JNK, and p38, the three major groups of mammalian mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases that play essential roles in the expression of proinflammatory cytokines. ERK inhibition in macrophages significantly suppressed both mRNA and protein expression of IL-6 and TNF-α and mRNA expression of IL-1β. On the other hand, JNK inhibition resulted in reductions in both c-Jun and ERK activation and significant suppression of all three proinflammatory cytokines at both the mRNA and protein levels. Inhibition of p38 suppressed only IL-6 protein expression with no effect on the expression of IL-1β and TNF-α. Furthermore, we found that serine proteases produced by Blastocystis play an important role in the induction of ERK activation and proinflammatory cytokine expression by macrophages. Our study thus demonstrated for the first time that Blastocystis could induce the expression of various proinflammatory cytokines via the activation of MAP kinases and that infection with Blastocystis may contribute to the pathogenesis of inflammatory intestinal diseases through the activation of inflammatory pathways in host immune cells, such as macrophages.
PMCID: PMC4249314  PMID: 25156742
8.  Inflammatory bowel disease in children--clinical, endoscopic, radiologic and histopathologic investigation. 
This paper reviews our five years' clinical experience (1987 to 1991) of 22 patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). There were 12 patients with Crohn's disease and 10 patients with ulcerative colitis. The mean age at diagnosis was 8.7 years (2 to 14 years). Clinical impressions before referral were chronic diarrhea in 11, irritable bowel syndrome in 5, colon polyp in 4, lymphoma in 3, intestinal tuberculosis in 2, amoebic colitis in 2, ulcerative colitis in 2 children and other diseases. The mean interval from the onset of symptoms to the diagnosis of IBD was 18 months. Diagnosis of Crohn's disease was delayed for more than 13 months in 8 (67%), whereas that of ulcerative colitis was delayed for more than 13 months in 4 (40%). Diarrhea (50%), abdominal pain (36%) and rectal bleeding (36%) were the three most frequent presenting complaints of IBD. Moderately severe abdominal pain was a more common chief complaint in Crohn's disease (58%) than in ulcerative colitis (10%). Hematochezia (90% vs 17%) and moderately severe diarrhea (90% vs 75%) were more common gastrointestinal manifestations in ulcerative colitis than in Crohn's disease. The associated extraintestinal manifestations were oral ulcer in 7, arthralgia in 11 and arthritis in 4, skin lesions in 2, eye lesions in 2 and growth failure in 9 patients. Of 12 children with Crohn's disease, granuloma was found in 5, aphthous ulcerations in 8, cobble stone appearance in 8, skip area or asymmetric lesions in 6, transmural involvement in 7, and perianal fistula in 3. Among 10 children with ulcerative Colitis, there were crypt abscess in 8, granularity or friability in 10 and rectosigmoid ulcerations with purulent exudate in 8 children. The main sites of involvement in children with Crohn's disease were both the small and large bowels in 7 (58%), small bowel only in 2 (16%), and colon only in 3 (25%). Terminal ileum involvement was seen in 75% of Crohn's disease cases. The main sites of involvement in children with ulcerative colitis were total colon in 4 (40%), up to the splenic flexure in 2 (20%), rectosigmoid in 3 (30%) and rectum only in one (10%). Medical treatment including sulfasalazine, and systemic or topical steroid was administered initially in most patients. Seven of 12 patients with Crohn's disease and 2 of 10 patients with ulcerative colitis were operated on.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)
PMCID: PMC3053786  PMID: 1285921
9.  Low prevalence of Blastocystis sp. in active ulcerative colitis patients 
Ulcerative colitis (UC) is thought to originate from a disbalance in the interplay between the gut microbiota and the innate and adaptive immune system. Apart from the bacterial microbiota, there might be other organisms, such as parasites or viruses, that could play a role in the aetiology of UC. The primary objective of this study was to compare the prevalence of Blastocystis sp. in a cohort of patients with active UC and compare that to the prevalence in healthy controls. We studied patients with active UC confirmed by endoscopy included in a randomised prospective trial on the faecal transplantation for UC. A cohort of healthy subjects who served as donors in randomised trials on faecal transplantation were controls. Healthy subjects did not have gastrointestinal symptoms and were extensively screened for infectious diseases by a screenings questionnaire, extensive serologic assessment for viruses and stool analysis. Potential parasitic infections such as Blastocystis were diagnosed with the triple faeces test (TFT). The prevalence of Blastocystis sp. were compared between groups by Chi-square testing. A total of 168 subjects were included, of whom 45 had active UC [median age 39.0 years, interquartile range (IQR) 32.5–49.0, 49 % male] and 123 were healthy subjects (median age 27 years, IQR 22.0–37.0, 54 % male). Blastocystis sp. was present in the faeces of 40/123 (32.5 %) healthy subjects and 6/45 (13.3 %) UC patients (p = 0.014). Infection with Blastocystis is significantly less frequent in UC patients as compared to healthy controls.
PMCID: PMC4409634  PMID: 25680316
10.  An Antibiotic-Responsive Mouse Model of Fulminant Ulcerative Colitis  
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(3):e41.
The constellation of human inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, which both display a wide spectrum in the severity of pathology. One theory is that multiple genetic hits to the host immune system may contribute to the susceptibility and severity of IBD. However, experimental proof of this concept is still lacking. Several genetic mouse models that each recapitulate some aspects of human IBD have utilized a single gene defect to induce colitis. However, none have produced pathology clearly distinguishable as either ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease, in part because none of them reproduce the most severe forms of disease that are observed in human patients. This lack of severe IBD models has posed a challenge for research into pathogenic mechanisms and development of new treatments. We hypothesized that multiple genetic hits to the regulatory machinery that normally inhibits immune activation in the intestine would generate more severe, reproducible pathology that would mimic either ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease.
Methods and Findings
We generated a novel mouse line (dnKO) that possessed defects in both TGFβRII and IL-10R2 signaling. These mice rapidly and reproducibly developed a disease resembling fulminant human ulcerative colitis that was quite distinct from the much longer and more variable course of pathology observed previously in mice possessing only single defects. Pathogenesis was driven by uncontrolled production of proinflammatory cytokines resulting in large part from T cell activation. The disease process could be significantly ameliorated by administration of antibodies against IFNγ and TNFα and was completely inhibited by a combination of broad-spectrum antibiotics.
Here, we develop to our knowledge the first mouse model of fulminant ulcerative colitis by combining multiple genetic hits in immune regulation and demonstrate that the resulting disease is sensitive to both anticytokine therapy and broad-spectrum antibiotics. These findings indicated the IL-10 and TGFβ pathways synergize to inhibit microbially induced production of proinflammatory cytokines, including IFNγ and TNFα, which are known to play a role in the pathogenesis of human ulcerative colitis. Our findings also provide evidence that broad-spectrum antibiotics may have an application in the treatment of patients with ulcerative colitis. This model system will be useful in the future to explore the microbial factors that induce immune activation and characterize how these interactions produce disease.
Paul Allen and colleagues describe the development of a mouse model of fulminant ulcerative colitis with multiple genetic hits in immune regulation which can be moderated by anti-cytokine therapy and broad-spectrum antibiotics.
Editors' Summary
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a group of disorders characterized by inflammation (swelling) of the digestive tract (the tube that runs from the mouth to the anus), affects about 1.4 million people in the US. There are two main types of IBD. In Crohn's disease, which can affect any area of the digestive tract but most commonly involves the lower part of the small intestine (small bowel), all the layers of the intestine become inflamed. In ulcerative colitis, which primarily affects the colon (large bowel) and the rectum (the part of the bowel closest to the anus), only the lining of the bowel becomes inflamed, the cells in this lining die, and sores or ulcers form. Both types of IBD most commonly develop between the ages of 15 and 35 years, often run in families, and carry an increased risk of cancer. Symptoms—usually diarrhea and abdominal cramps—can be mild or severe and the disorder can develop slowly or suddenly. There is no medical cure for IBD, but drugs that modulate the immune system (for example, corticosteroids) can help some people. Some people benefit from treatment with drugs that specifically inhibit “proinflammatory cytokines,” proteins made by the immune system that stimulate inflammation (for example, TNFα and INFγ). When medical therapy fails, surgery to remove the affected part of the bowel may be necessary.
Why Was This Study Done?
Exactly what causes IBD is not clear, but people with IBD seem to have an overactive immune system. The immune system normally protects the body from harmful substances but in IBD it mistakenly recognizes the food substances and “good” bacteria that are normally present in the human gut as foreign and hence reacts against them. As a result, immune system cells accumulate in the lining of the bowel and cause inflammation. Several different pathways usually prevent inappropriate immune activation, so could IBD be caused by alterations in one or several of these immune regulatory pathways? In previous studies, mice with a defect in just one pathway have developed mild intestinal abnormalities but not the problems seen in the most severe forms of IBD. In this study, therefore, the researchers have generated and characterized a new mouse line with defects in two immune regulatory pathways to see whether this might be a better animal model of human IBD.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
To make their new mouse line, the researchers mated mice that had a defective TGFβ signaling pathway in their T lymphocytes with mice that had a defective IL-10 signaling pathway. Both these pathways are anti-inflammatory, and mice with defects in either pathway develop mild and variable inflammation of the colon (colitis) by age 3–4 months. By contrast, the doubly defective mice (dnKO mice) failed to thrive, lost weight, and died by 4–6 weeks of age. The colons of 4- to 5-week old dnKO mice were inflamed and ulcerated (some changes were visible in 3-week-old mice) and contained many immune system cells. Mice with a single defective signaling pathway had no gut abnormalities at this age. The dnKO mice, just like people with IBD, had higher than normal blood levels of IFNγ, TNFα, and other proinflammatory cytokines; these raised levels were the result of abnormal lymphocyte activation. Treatment of the dnKO mice with a combination of agents that neutralize IFNγ and TNFα (anti-cytokine therapy) greatly reduced the colitis seen in these mice; neutralization of IFNγ alone had some beneficial effects, but neutralization of TNFα alone had no effect. Finally, early treatment of the dnKO mice with broad-spectrum antibiotics completely inhibited colitis.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that dnKO mice are a good model for fulminant (severe and rapidly progressing) ulcerative colitis and support the idea that IBD involves multiple genetic defects in immune regulation. They also indicate that the IL-10 and the TGFβ signaling pathways normally cooperate to inhibit the inappropriate immune responses to intestinal bacteria seen in IBD. This new mouse model should help researchers unravel what goes wrong in IBD and should also help them develop new treatments for ulcerative colitis. More immediately, these findings suggest that combined anti-cytokine therapy may be a better treatment for ulcerative colitis than single therapy. In addition, they suggest that clinical studies should be started to test whether broad-spectrum antibiotics can ameliorate ulcerative colitis in people.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The Medline Plus Encyclopedia has pages on Crohn's disease and on ulcerative colitis (in English and Spanish)
Information is available from the UK National Health Service Direct Health Encyclopedia about Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
The US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases provides information on Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
Information and support for patients with inflammatory bowel disease and their caregivers is provided by the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America and by the UK National Association for Colitis and Crohn's Disease
PMCID: PMC2270287  PMID: 18318596
11.  Using gene expression data to identify certain gastro-intestinal diseases 
Inflammatory bowel diseases, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are considered to be of autoimmune origin, but the etiology of irritable bowel syndrome remains elusive. Furthermore, classifying patients into irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel diseases can be difficult without invasive testing and holds important treatment implications. Our aim was to assess the ability of gene expression profiling in blood to differentiate among these subject groups.
Transcript levels of a total of 45 genes in blood were determined by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). We applied three separate analytic approaches; one utilized a scoring system derived from combinations of ratios of expression levels of two genes and two different support vector machines.
All methods discriminated different subject cohorts, irritable bowel syndrome from control, inflammatory bowel disease from control, irritable bowel syndrome from inflammatory bowel disease, and ulcerative colitis from Crohn’s disease, with high degrees of sensitivity and specificity.
These results suggest these approaches may provide clinically useful prediction of the presence of these gastro-intestinal diseases and syndromes.
PMCID: PMC3599448  PMID: 23171526
12.  Role of wireless capsule endoscopy in inflammatory bowel disease 
Capsule endoscopy (CE) offers state-of-the-art imaging of the small bowel. In Crohn’s disease its clinical role is still uncertain. This report analyses the usefulness of CE in patients with suspected Cronh’s disease, in patients with established Crohn’s disease (when assessing severity, occult gastrointestinal bleeding and/or as a guide to therapy), in patients with inflammatory bowel disease unclassified (IBDU), and in individuals with ulcerative colitis. The first item in this group is the most important although there is no strong evidence to establish the position of CE in the diagnostic workup. In patients with established Crohn’s disease, recently developed activity scores are promising tools for an accurate assessment of severity. As a guide to therapy, CE should be focused on patients with unexplained symptoms when other investigations are inconclusive. In postoperative Crohn’s Disease, international consensus recommended considering CE only if ileocolonoscopy is contraindicated or unsuccessful. In the case of IBDU, studies have shown a significant proportion of patients reclassified with Crohn’s disease. In this setting, CE could have a role determining small bowel involvement. The role of CE in ulcerative colitis is limited. Some authors advocate CE before colectomy for refractory cases in order to exclude Crohn’s disease. In summary, CE offers a new horizon in inflammatory bowel disease, and a better knowledge of mucosal abnormalities that could offer a paradigm shift: changing from symptom-based disease activity estimation to direct mucosal healing monitoring. Nevertheless, randomized controlled studies are still needed to provide stronger evidence in this setting.
PMCID: PMC2999124  PMID: 21160745
Wireless capsule endoscopy; Crohn’s disease; Ulcerative colitis; Inflammatory bowel disease
13.  Circulating antibodies to Saccharomyces cerevisiae (bakers'/brewers' yeast) in gastrointestinal disease. 
Journal of Clinical Pathology  1999;52(1):47-53.
AIM: To measure circulating antibodies to yeast organisms that could be used to characterise the yeast specific immune response in gastrointestinal disease. METHODS: A quantitative, isotype specific enzyme linked immunosorbent assay was developed to measure circulating antibodies to an aqueous extract of Saccharomyces cerevisiae (sacc). Comparisons of specific antibody concentrations were made between 224 healthy controls and 51 patients with Crohn's disease, 41 with ulcerative colitis, 24 with indeterminate colitis, 23 with chronic liver disease, 17 with coeliac disease, and seven with irritable bowel syndrome. Additional comparisons were made between Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis patients. Within the Crohn's disease group, the dependence of antibody levels on several clinical variables was assessed. RESULTS: IgG and IgA anti-sacc antibodies were significantly raised in Crohn's disease. IgG antibodies were also raised in patients with chronic liver disease. Among patients with Crohn's disease, IgG antibody concentrations were higher in those with serum alpha 1 acid glycoprotein (AAG) above the normal range and there was a strong trend towards increased IgG anti-sacc in the presence of small bowel disease, whereas IgA anti-sacc correlated positively with disease duration. No differences were detected according to whether patients were taking steroids. Neither the Crohn's disease nor the chronic liver disease group differed from normal subjects in respect of IgG antibodies to bovine milk casein. On linear regression analysis of complete data from 39 Crohn's disease patients, AAG was found to be a significant predictor of both IgG and IgA antibodies, and male sex and disease duration to be additional predictors of IgA antibodies. There was a significant difference in IgG antibodies between Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. CONCLUSIONS: Raised antibodies to yeast, although not completely specific for Crohn's disease, may have a future role in diagnosis. The assays described here could be used to address this question in the context of a prospective study.
PMCID: PMC501007  PMID: 10343612
14.  Analysis of Germline GLI1 Variation Implicates Hedgehog Signalling in the Regulation of Intestinal Inflammatory Pathways 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(12):e239.
Ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn's disease (CD) are polygenic chronic inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) of high prevalence that are associated with considerable morbidity. The hedgehog (HH) signalling pathway, which includes the transcription factor glioma-associated oncogene homolog 1 (GLI1), plays vital roles in gastrointestinal tract development, homeostasis, and malignancy. We identified a germline variation in GLI1 (within the IBD2 linkage region, 12q13) in patients with IBD. Since this IBD-associated variant encodes a GLI1 protein with reduced function and our expression studies demonstrated down-regulation of the HH response in IBD, we tested whether mice with reduced Gli1 activity demonstrate increased susceptibility to chemically induced colitis.
Methods and Findings
Using a gene-wide haplotype-tagging approach, germline GLI1 variation was examined in three independent populations of IBD patients and healthy controls from Northern Europe (Scotland, England, and Sweden) totalling over 5,000 individuals. On log-likelihood analysis, GLI1 was associated with IBD, predominantly UC, in Scotland and England (p < 0.0001). A nonsynonymous SNP (rs2228226C→G), in exon 12 of GLI1 (Q1100E) was strongly implicated, with pooled odds ratio of 1.194 (confidence interval = 1.09–1.31, p = 0.0002). GLI1 variants were tested in vitro for transcriptional activity in luciferase assays. Q1100E falls within a conserved motif near the C terminus of GLI1; the variant GLI protein exhibited reduced transactivation function in vitro. In complementary expression studies, we noted the colonic HH response, including GLI1, patched (PTCH), and hedgehog-interacting protein (HHIP), to be down-regulated in patients with UC. Finally, Gli1+/lacZ mice were tested for susceptibility to dextran sodium sulphate (DSS)-induced colitis. Clinical response, histology, and expression of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines were recorded. Gli1+/lacZ mice rapidly developed severe intestinal inflammation, with considerable morbidity and mortality compared with wild type. Local myeloid cells were shown to be direct targets of HH signals and cytokine expression studies revealed robust up-regulation of IL-12, IL-17, and IL-23 in this model.
HH signalling through GLI1 is required for appropriate modulation of the intestinal response to acute inflammatory challenge. Reduced GLI1 function predisposes to a heightened myeloid response to inflammatory stimuli, potentially leading to IBD.
Charlie Lees and colleagues identify a reduced-function variant of the hedgehog signaling pathway protein GLI1 that associates with inflammatory bowel disease, and investigate its role in a mouse model of colitis.
Editors' Summary
Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) are common disorders in which parts of the digestive tract become repeatedly or continuously inflamed. The immune system normally protects the body from entities it identifies as foreign, but in IBD it mistakenly recognizes gut tissue, and immune system cells accumulate in the lining of the bowel, which causes inflammation. There are two main types of IBD—Crohn's disease (CD), which mainly affects the small bowel, and ulcerative colitis (UC), which affects only the large bowel (colon). Both types tend to run in families and usually develop between the ages of 15 and 35 years. Symptoms—including diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and unexplained weight loss—can be mild or severe and the disease can develop slowly or suddenly. There is no cure for IBD except surgical removal of the affected part of the digestive tract. However, drugs that modulate the immune system (for example, corticosteroids) or that specifically inhibit “proinflammatory cytokines” (proteins made by the immune system that stimulate inflammation) are often helpful in reducing symptoms.
Why Was This Study Done?
Why the immune system becomes unbalanced in people with IBD is not clear but it is known that IBD is “polygenic,” that is, a disease caused by the combined actions of two or more inherited gene variants. Although UC and CD are clinically different diseases, they share several “susceptibility loci” (regions of the genome that harbor disease-associated gene variants), including the IBD2 locus. The identification of the actual gene within the IBD2 locus that is altered in people who are susceptible to IBD might provide new insights into what causes the immune imbalance in IBD and into how to treat the disease. In this study, the researchers test the hypothesis that a variant of a gene called GLI1, which lies in the IBD2 locus, is associated with IBD susceptibility. GLI1 encodes a transcription factor (a protein that regulates the production of proteins) that is a central component in the signaling pathway named for a protein called “hedgehog.” This pathway is involved in the development of many organs, including the digestive tract.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used a technique called gene-wide haplotype tagging to look for inherited GLl1 variants in patients with IBD and in healthy people living in Scotland, England, and Sweden. A specific variant of the GLI1 gene, resulting in alteration of a single amino acid component of the GLI1 protein, was associated with IBD (particularly with UC) in both Scotland and England; the same variant was weakly associated with IBD in the Swedish population. The variant GLI1 protein was only half as active as the normal protein in a laboratory assay, and, consistent with this result, the expression of several components of the hedgehog signaling pathway was lower in colon samples taken from patients with UC than in samples taken from healthy individuals. Finally, Gli1+/lacZ mice (which express half the normal amount of Gli1 protein) developed severe intestinal inflammation more rapidly than wild-type mice when they were treated with dextran sodium sulfate (DSS), a chemical that induces acute (sudden) colitis. Cellular analysis revealed that myeloid cells (cells that sense and modify the inflammatory response) are direct targets of the hedgehog signaling pathway. Furthermore, the expression of several pro-inflammatory cytokines (in particular, one called IL-23) increased more markedly in the Gli1+/lacZ mice than in the wild-type mice after DSS treatment.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that the normal response of the mammalian gut to challenge with inflammatory substances involves hedgehog signaling through GLI1 and that reduced GLI1 function might be one trigger for IBD. More specifically, the human genetic studies identify a GLI1 variant that is associated with IBD (at least in certain north European populations), the laboratory experiments indicate that this GLI1 variant encodes a protein with reduced activity, and the animal studies show that a similar reduction in Gli1 activity is sufficient to heighten intestinal inflammatory responses. Although this last result needs to be confirmed in animal models of chronic colitis that more closely resemble human IBD, these findings suggest that drugs that modulate hedgehog signaling might be useful in the treatment of IBD.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The MedlinePlus Encyclopedia has pages on Crohn's disease and on ulcerative colitis (in English and Spanish)
MedlinePlus provides links to other information Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis (in English and Spanish)
The US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases provides information on Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
The UK National Health Service Direct Encyclopedia also provides information on Crohn's disease and on ulcerative colitis
Wikipedia has a page on the hedgehog signaling pathway (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
PMCID: PMC2596854  PMID: 19071955
15.  Clinical pilot study: efficacy of triple antibiotic therapy in Blastocystis positive irritable bowel syndrome patients 
Gut Pathogens  2014;6:34.
Blastocystis species are common human enteric parasites. Carriage has been linked to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Treatment of Blastocystis spp. with antimicrobials is problematic and insensitive diagnostic methods and re-infection complicate assessment of eradication. We investigated whether triple antibiotic therapy comprising diloxanide furoate, trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole and secnidazole (TAB) given to diarrhoea-predominant IBS (D-IBS) patients positive for Blastocystis would achieve eradication.
In a longitudinal, prospective case study 10 D-IBS Blastocystis-positive patients took 14 days of diloxanide furoate 500 mg thrice daily, trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole 160/80 mg twice daily and secnidazole 400 mg thrice daily. Faecal specimens were collected at baseline, day 15 and 4 weeks after completion of TAB. Specimens were analysed using faecal smear, culture and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) of the 16 SSU rRNA. Patients kept a concurrent clinical diary.
Six (60%) patients cleared Blastocystis spp. after TAB, including three who had failed previous therapy. Subtypes detected were ST3 (60%), ST4 (40%), ST1 (20%) and ST7, 8 (10%); four patients had mixed ST infections. Serum immunoglobulin A (IgA) levels were low in 40% of patients. Higher rates of Blastocystis clearance were observed in patients symptomatic for less than a year (Mann–Whitney, p = 0.032, 95% confidence) with no associations found with age, previous antibiotic therapy, faecal parasite load, ST, IgA level or clinical improvement.
Clearance of Blastocystis spp. was achieved with TAB in 60% of D-IBS patients, an improvement over conventional monotherapy. Higher clearance rates are needed to facilitate investigation of the relevance of this parasite in clinically heterogenous IBS.
PMCID: PMC4209510  PMID: 25349629
Blastocystis; Therapy; Irritable bowel syndrome; PCR
16.  Children of Senegal River Basin show the highest prevalence of Blastocystis sp. ever observed worldwide 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2014;14:164.
Blastocystis sp. is currently the most common intestinal protist found in human feces and considered an emerging parasite with a worldwide distribution. Because of its potential impact in public health, we reinforced the picture of Blastocystis sp. prevalence and molecular subtype distribution in Africa by performing the first survey of this parasite in Senegal.
Stool samples from 93 symptomatic presenting with various gastrointestinal disorders or asymptomatic children living in three villages of the Senegal River Basin were tested for the presence of Blastocystis sp. by non-quantitative and quantitative PCR using primer pairs targeting the SSU rDNA gene. Positive samples were subtyped to investigate the frequency of Blastocystis sp. subtypes in our cohort and the distribution of subtypes in the symptomatic and asymptomatic groups of children.
By the use of molecular tools, all 93 samples were found to be positive for Blastocystis sp. indicating a striking parasite prevalence of 100%. Mixed infections by two or three subtypes were identified in eight individuals. Among a total of 103 subtyped isolates, subtype 3 was most abundant (49.5%) followed by subtype 1 (28.2%), subtype 2 (20.4%) and subtype 4 (1.9%). Subtype 3 was dominant in the symptomatic group while subtypes 1 and 2 were detected with equal frequency in both symptomatic and asymptomatic groups. The distribution of subtypes was compared with those available in other African countries and worldwide. Comparison confirmed that subtype 4 is much less frequently detected or absent in Africa while it is commonly found in Europe. Potential sources of Blastocystis sp. infection including human-to-human, zoonotic, and waterborne transmissions were also discussed.
The prevalence of Blastocystis sp. in our Senegalese population was the highest prevalence ever recovered worldwide for this parasite by reaching 100%. All cases were caused by subtypes 1, 2, 3 and 4 with a predominance of subtype 3. More than half of the children infected by Blastocystis sp. presented various gastrointestinal disorders. Such high prevalence of blastocystosis in developing countries makes its control a real challenge for public health authorities.
PMCID: PMC3987649  PMID: 24666632
Blastocystis sp; Intestinal parasite; Molecular epidemiology; Pathogenicity; PCR; Subtyping; Transmission; Zoonosis
17.  Tricyclic Antidepressants for Management of Residual Symptoms in Inflammatory Bowel Disease 
Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) have efficacy in treating irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Some clinicians use TCAs to treat residual symptoms in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients already on decisive IBD therapy or with quiescent inflammation, although this strategy has not been formally studied.
The aim of this study was to examine the efficacy of TCA therapy in IBD patients with residual symptoms, despite controlled inflammation, in a retrospective cohort study.
Inclusion required initiation of TCA for persistent gastrointestinal symptoms. IBD patients had inactive or mildly active disease with persistent symptoms despite adequate IBD therapy as determined by their physician. Symptom response was compared with IBS patients. Established Likert scales were used to score baseline symptom severity (0 = no symptoms, 3 =severe symptoms) and TCA response (0= no improvement; 3 = complete satisfaction).
Eighty-one IBD [41.3 ± 1.7y, 56F; 58 Crohn's disease/23 ulcerative colitis (UC)] and 77 IBS (46.2 ± 1.7y, 60F) patients were initiated on a TCA therapy. Baseline symptom scores (IBD, 2.06 ± 0.03; IBS, 2.12 ± 0.04; P = 0.15) and symptom response to TCA therapy (IBD, 1.46 ± 0.09; IBS, 1.30 ± 0.09; P = 0.2) were similar in both the groups. At least moderate improvement (Likert score ≥ 2) on TCA was achieved by comparable proportions of patients (59.3% IBD vs. 46% IBS; P = 0.09). Within IBD, response was better with UC than Crohn's disease (1.86 ± 0.13 vs. 1.26 ± 0.11, respectively, P = 0.003).
In a clinical practice setting, TCA use led to moderate improvement of residual gastrointestinal symptoms in IBD patients for whom escalation of IBD therapy was not planned. UC patients demonstrated higher therapeutic success. IBD symptom responses were similar to IBS patients.
PMCID: PMC4111227  PMID: 24406434
functional; amitriptyline; nortriptyline; quality of life; clinical decision making
18.  The relationship between intestinal parasites and some immune-mediated intestinal conditions  
Over the last decades, the incidence of infestation by minor parasites has decreased in developed countries. Infectious agents can also suppress autoimmune and allergic disorders. Some investigations show that various protozoa and helminthes are connected with the main immune-mediated intestinal conditions including celiac disease (CD), inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Celiac disease is a digestive and autoimmune disorder that can damage the small intestine and characterized by a multitude gastrointestinal (GI) and extra GI symptoms. IBD (including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease) is a group of inflammatory conditions of the small intestine and colon. The etiology of IBD is unknown, but it may be related to instability in the intestinal microflora that leading to an immoderate inflammatory response to commensal microbiota. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common, long-term condition of the digestive system. Bloating, diarrhoea and/or constipation are nonspecific symptoms of IBS. Various studies have shown that some intestinal parasites can effect on immune system of infected hosts and in some cases, they are able to modify and change the host’s immune responses, particularly in autoimmune disorders like celiac disease and IBD. The main objective of this review is to investigate the relationship between intestinal parasites and different inflammatory bowel disorders.
PMCID: PMC4403024  PMID: 25926937
Celiac disease; Inflammatory bowel diseases; Irritable bowel syndrome; Intestinal parasites
19.  Diagnostic value of the Manning criteria in irritable bowel syndrome. 
Gut  1990;31(1):77-81.
Because unexplained 'functional symptoms' are a major cause of referral to gastroenterologists, the efficiency of the medical history to lead to a positive diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome, without resorting to the use of expensive tests, remains a key question. Whilst the six criteria of Manning et al are widely used, data on their validity in discriminating irritable bowel syndrome from healthy controls, irritable bowel syndrome from non-ulcer dyspepsia and especially among irritable bowel syndrome subgroups, are not available. To evaluate this, we studied 361 outpatients who completed a bowel disease questionnaire, which objectively measured Manning's (and other) criteria. The group included 82 patients with irritable bowel syndrome, 33 with non-ulcer dyspepsia, 101 with organic gastrointestinal disease, and 145 healthy controls. Diagnoses were based on a full and independent clinical evaluation, not on responses to the bowel disease questionnaire. Reliability was assessed by a test-retest procedure. All six of the individual Manning criteria were found to be reliable (median kappa = 0.79). Based on a logistic regression analysis of the discriminatory value of Manning's criteria, as the number of positive criteria increased, so did the predicted probability of irritable bowel syndrome. This predictive value was highest in younger patients and in females. The Manning criteria discriminated irritable bowel syndrome from organic gastrointestinal disease and from all non-irritable bowel syndrome gastrointestinal disease with a sensitivity of 58% and 42%, and a specificity of 74% and 85%, respectively. Stools that were often loose and watery provided an additional independent criterion for distinguishing irritable bowel syndrome from non-irritable bowel syndrome. Thus, symptoms can be used to diagnose irritable bowel syndrome positively, but Manning's criteria are not highly sensitive.
PMCID: PMC1378344  PMID: 2318433
20.  Blastocystis, an unrecognized parasite: an overview of pathogenesis and diagnosis 
Blastocystis sp. is among the few enteric parasites with a prevalence that often exceeds 5% in the general population of industrialized countries and can reach 30–60% in developing countries. This parasite is frequently found in people who are immunocompromised (patients with human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or cancer) and a higher risk of Blastocystis sp. infection has been found in people with close animal contact. Such prevalence in the human population and the zoonotic potential naturally raise questions about the impact of these parasites on public health and has increased interest in this area. Recent in vitro and in vivo studies have shed new light on the pathogenic power of this parasite, suggesting that Blastocystis sp. infection is associated with a variety of gastrointestinal disorders, may play a significant role in irritable bowel syndrome, and may be linked with cutaneous lesions (urticaria). Despite recent significant advances in the knowledge of the extensive genetic diversity of this species, the identification of extracellular proteases as virulence factors and the publication of one isolate genome, many aspects of the biology of Blastocystis sp. remain poorly investigated. In this review, we investigate several biological aspects of Blastocystis sp. (diversity and epidemiology, diagnosis tools and pathophysiology). These data pave the way for the following challenges concerning Blastocystis sp. research: deciphering key biological mechanisms and pathways of this parasite and clarification of its clinical impact in humans.
PMCID: PMC4040727  PMID: 25165551
Blastocystis; pathogenesis; diagnosis; subtypes; gut
21.  Rectal mucosal plasma cells in inflammatory bowel disease. 
Gut  1983;24(6):519-524.
To achieve optimum staining and reproducible counts of plasma cells in paraffin embedded tissue with the immunoperoxidase technique we have found it essential to obtain a plateau count by titration of antisera for each specimen. This modification was used to study IgA, IgM, IgE, and IgG plasma cells in rectal biopsies from 20 controls, 20 patients with ulcerative proctocolitis, 20 with Crohn's colitis, 20 with non-specific proctitis, 15 with bacterial colitis, and seven with Crohn's disease but no apparent large bowel involvement. Counts were correlated with the characteristic histological features of inflammatory bowel disease. In controls the ratio of the mean counts for IgA, IgM, IgE, and IgG plasma cells was 8:3:3:1. All types of plasma cells were very significantly increased in the patients with ulcerative proctocolitis, Crohn's colitis, and non-specific proctitis and counts correlated with the severity of inflammation. There was no significant difference between the counts in these three groups. All counts tended to be higher in bacterial colitis than in controls, the difference being significant for IgA and IgE. When matched for severity of inflammation there was no significant difference between the counts in bacterial colitis and inflammatory bowel disease. The counts in patients with Crohn's disease but no large bowel involvement were not significantly different from controls. These results suggest that changes in plasma cell counts in inflammatory bowel disease are a non-specific response to mucosal damage, possible by a luminal irritant, and do not differentiate the type of inflammatory bowel disease.
PMCID: PMC1420012  PMID: 6852632
22.  Aberrant Mucin Assembly in Mice Causes Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress and Spontaneous Inflammation Resembling Ulcerative Colitis 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(3):e54.
MUC2 mucin produced by intestinal goblet cells is the major component of the intestinal mucus barrier. The inflammatory bowel disease ulcerative colitis is characterized by depleted goblet cells and a reduced mucus layer, but the aetiology remains obscure. In this study we used random mutagenesis to produce two murine models of inflammatory bowel disease, characterised the basis and nature of the inflammation in these mice, and compared the pathology with human ulcerative colitis.
Methods and Findings
By murine N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea mutagenesis we identified two distinct noncomplementing missense mutations in Muc2 causing an ulcerative colitis-like phenotype. 100% of mice of both strains developed mild spontaneous distal intestinal inflammation by 6 wk (histological colitis scores versus wild-type mice, p < 0.01) and chronic diarrhoea. Monitoring over 300 mice of each strain demonstrated that 25% and 40% of each strain, respectively, developed severe clinical signs of colitis by age 1 y. Mutant mice showed aberrant Muc2 biosynthesis, less stored mucin in goblet cells, a diminished mucus barrier, and increased susceptibility to colitis induced by a luminal toxin. Enhanced local production of IL-1β, TNF-α, and IFN-γ was seen in the distal colon, and intestinal permeability increased 2-fold. The number of leukocytes within mesenteric lymph nodes increased 5-fold and leukocytes cultured in vitro produced more Th1 and Th2 cytokines (IFN-γ, TNF-α, and IL-13). This pathology was accompanied by accumulation of the Muc2 precursor and ultrastructural and biochemical evidence of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in goblet cells, activation of the unfolded protein response, and altered intestinal expression of genes involved in ER stress, inflammation, apoptosis, and wound repair. Expression of mutated Muc2 oligomerisation domains in vitro demonstrated that aberrant Muc2 oligomerisation underlies the ER stress. In human ulcerative colitis we demonstrate similar accumulation of nonglycosylated MUC2 precursor in goblet cells together with ultrastructural and biochemical evidence of ER stress even in noninflamed intestinal tissue. Although our study demonstrates that mucin misfolding and ER stress initiate colitis in mice, it does not ascertain the genetic or environmental drivers of ER stress in human colitis.
Characterisation of the mouse models we created and comparison with human disease suggest that ER stress-related mucin depletion could be a fundamental component of the pathogenesis of human colitis and that clinical studies combining genetics, ER stress-related pathology and relevant environmental epidemiology are warranted.
Michael McGuckin and colleagues identify two mutations that cause aberrant mucin oligomerization in mice. The resulting phenotype, including endoplasmic reticulum stress, resembles clinical and pathologic features of human ulcerative colitis.
Editors' Summary
Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are common disorders in which parts of the digestive tract become inflamed. The two main types of IBD are Crohn's disease, which mainly affects the small bowel, and ulcerative colitis (UC), which mainly affects the large bowel (colon). Both types tend to run in families and usually develop between 15 and 35 years old. Their symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and unintentional weight loss. These symptoms can vary in severity, can be chronic (persistent) or intermittent, and may start gradually or suddenly. There is no cure for IBD (except removal of the affected part of the digestive tract), but drugs that modulate the immune system (for example, corticosteroids) or that inhibit “proinflammatory cytokines” (proteins made by the immune system that stimulate inflammation) can sometimes help.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although the clinical and pathological (disease-associated) features of Crohn's disease and UC are somewhat different, both disorders are probably caused by an immune system imbalance. Normally, the immune system protects the body from potentially harmful microbes in the gut but does not react to the many harmless bacteria that live there or to the food that passes along the digestive tract. In IBD, the immune system becomes overactive for unknown reasons, and lymphocytes (immune system cells) accumulate in the lining of the bowel and cause inflammation. In this study, the researchers use a technique called random mutagenesis (the random introduction of small changes, called mutations, into the genes of an organism using a chemical that damages DNA) to develop two mouse models that resemble human UC and that throw new light on to how this disorder develops.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers establish two mutant mouse strains—Winnie and Eeyore mice—that develop mild spontaneous inflammation of the colon and chronic diarrhea and that have more proinflammatory cytokines and more lymphocytes in their colons than normal mice. 25% and 40% of the Winnie and Eeyore mice, respectively, have severe clinical signs of colitis by 1 year of age. Both strains have a mutation in the Muc2 gene, which codes for MUC2 mucin, the main protein in mucus. This viscous substance (which coats the inside of the intestine) is produced by and stored in intestinal “goblet” cells. Mucus helps to maintain the intestine's immunological balance but is depleted in UC. The researchers show that the manufacture and assembly of Muc2 molecules is abnormal in Winnie and Eeyore mice, that less mucin is stored in their goblet cells than in normal mice, and that their intestinal mucus barrier is reduced. In addition, an incompletely assembled version of the molecule, called Muc2 precursor, accumulates in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER; the cellular apparatus that prepares newly manufactured proteins for release) of goblet cells, leading to overload with abnormal protein and causing a state of cellular distress known as the “ER stress response.” Finally, the researchers report that MUC2 precursor also accumulates in the goblet cells of people with UC and that even the noninflamed intestinal tissue of these patients shows signs of ER stress.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that mucin abnormalities and ER stress can initiate colitis in mice. Results from animal studies do not always reflect what happens in people, but these findings, together with those from the small study in humans, suggest that ER stress-related mucin depletion could be a component in the development of human colitis. The results do not identify the genetic changes and/or environmental factors that might trigger ER stress in human colitis, but suggest that once initiated, ER stress might interfere with MUC2 production, which would lead to a diminished mucus barrier, expose the lining of the intestine to more toxins and foreign substances, and trigger local mucosal inflammation. The release of inflammatory cytokines would then damage the intestine's lining and exacerbate ER stress, thus setting up a cycle of intestinal damage and inflammation. Clinical studies to look for genetic changes and environmental factors capable of triggering ER stress and for ER-stress related changes in human UC should now be undertaken to test this hypothesis.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The MedlinePlus Encyclopedia has pages on Crohn's disease and on ulcerative colitis (in English and Spanish)
The US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases provides information on Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
Information and support for patients with inflammatory bowel disease and their caregivers is provided by the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America and by the UK National Association for Colitis and Crohn's Disease
Wikipedia has pages on mucins and on mucus (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
PMCID: PMC2270292  PMID: 18318598
23.  The immune competence of patients with inflammatory bowel disease 
Gut  1974;15(3):213-219.
Previous investigations of immune function in patients with Crohn's disease have yielded conflicting results. A comprehensive study of immune competence—peripheral lymphocyte count, serum immunoglobulin levels (IgG, IgA and IgM), lymphocyte response to PHA, Mantoux test, and DNCB response—has been performed in a large number of patients with inflammatory bowel disease. A total of 52 patients with Crohn's disease, 20 patients with ulcerative colitis, and 46 control patients with benign gastrointestinal disease were investigated. The patient groups were subdivided into `well' and `ill' in view of the differing clinical states of patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Some of the Crohn's and colitis patients were receiving steroid therapy.
The peripheral blood lymphocyte count and lymphocyte response to PHA were similar in all patient groups. Serum IgA levels were elevated in Crohn's disease but fell significantly in `ill' Crohn's patients following excisional surgery. Serum IgM levels rose significantly in `ill' Crohn's patients after surgery. Steroid therapy was associated with diminution of both Mantoux and DNCB responses in the `ill' Crohn's patients. There was no evidence of impairment of immune competence in either Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.
PMCID: PMC1412882  PMID: 4841278
24.  Prolyl hydroxylase activity in serum and rectal mucosa in inflammatory bowel disease. 
Gut  1978;19(8):743-747.
Prolyl hydroxylase activity in rectal mucosa was found to be significantly greater in 11 patients with Crohn's disease than in 11 control subjects with the irritable bowel syndrome and 16 patients with ulcerative colitis (P less than 0.005). Seven of the patients with Crohn's disease had a histologically normal rectum. This abnormality in apparently normal mucosa supports the concept that Crohn's disease is a 'continuous' disease of the gastrointestinal tract. Although there was no significant difference in prolyl hydroxylase activity between control subjects and patients with ulcerative colitis, those patients with quiescent disease tended to have lower values than those with active mucosal inflammation. Prolyl hydroxylase activity could not, however, be detected in the sera of either healthy control subjects or patients with inflammatory bowel disease.
PMCID: PMC1412144  PMID: 210089
25.  Serum antineutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibodies in inflammatory bowel disease are mainly associated with ulcerative colitis. A correlation study between perinuclear antineutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibodies and clinical parameters, medical, and surgical treatment. 
Gut  1993;34(1):46-50.
Perinuclear antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies have recently been demonstrated in the sera of patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Three hundred and sixty six sera obtained from 120 patients with ulcerative colitis, 105 patients suffering from Crohn's disease and 49 non-inflammatory bowel disease controls were tested in two laboratories, using an indirect immunofluorescence assay. In addition, a fixed-neutrophil enzyme linked immunoadsorbent assay (ELISA) was evaluated in one of the two laboratories. The results in the immunofluorescence test showed a high degree of correlation between the two laboratories (Kappa coefficient = 0.8). Ninety five of the 120 (79%) ulcerative colitis patients had a positive test whereas only 14 of the 105 (13%) patients with Crohn's disease were positive. Sera from four patients suffering from primary sclerosing cholangitis were positive as well as four of the 45 control sera (9%). The sensitivity of the perinuclear antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody immunofluorescence test for the diagnosis of ulcerative colitis was 0.75 with a specificity of 0.88 and a positive predictive value of 0.88 (all sera). In the ELISA technique 37 of 94 ulcerative colitis sera and one of the 68 Crohn's disease sera were positive. In the control group only one of the patients suffering from primary sclerosing cholangitis reacted positively (32 non-inflammatory bowel disease sera tested). The ELISA technique had a high specificity (0.97), but a low sensitivity (0.39). There was no relation of perinuclear antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies in ulcerative colitis patients or in Crohn's disease patients with disease activity, duration of illness, localisation, extent of disease, previous bowel operations or medical treatment. The clinical significance of perinuclear antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody positive and negative subsets in both groups of patients thus remains unexplained. Our study confirms that determination of serum antineutrophil cytoplasmatic antibodies in patients with inflammatory bowel disease may differentiate ulcerative colitis from Crohn's disease. Further immunological studies are needed to explain the absence of these antibodies in a subset of ulcerative colitis patients and their role in the pathogenesis of the disease.
PMCID: PMC1374099  PMID: 8432451

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