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31. E. Coli and Crohn’s Disease

Simpson and Scherl

(l.) Kenneth Simpson (r.) Ellen Scherl

Kenneth W. Simpson, Clinical Sciences, Ellen J. Scherl, Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College, and research colleagues ¬≠discovered that intestinal inflammation in patients with Crohn’s disease might be associated with a group of E. coli bacteria. Researchers have long suspected that Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis (MAP) is central to the development of Crohn’s disease, an incurable disorder that most commonly causes inflammation in the ileum, the lower part of the small intestine. The mechanisms that drive the inflammatory response, however, have not been identified. The Simpson research team compared the intestines of healthy individuals with the intestines of patients with Crohn’s restricted to the ileum and the colon. Instead of MAP bacteria, they found an increased level of E. coli in more inflamed areas of the small intestines. These findings suggest that a novel group of E. coli contains opportunistic pathogens that may cause chronic intestinal inflammation in susceptible individuals. The researchers suggest that treatment that considers an individual’s intestinal bacteria in addition to disease phenotype and genotype may improve the outcome for Crohn’s patients. Crohn’s disease affects one in 1,000 people in Europe and North America.

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