Scientists at the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom, have discovered a certain type of bacteria in cattle as a likely cause for Crohn's disease in human beings. The bacteria, called Mycobacterium paratuberculosis, are known to cause the debilitating Johne's disease in cattle. It is believed the bacteria are transferred from cows to humans via milk and dairy product consumption. The British scientists have been able to observe reactions caused by the bacteria in the human body that could tap it as a cause for Crohn's disease. This could open up new ways for finding more effective treatment options for Crohn's.
Crohn's disease is a chronic inflammation of the intestines. Patients suffering from Crohn's disease experience pain, bleeding, and diarrhea. If medical treatment options are not successful, relieve can often only be found through the removal of the effected part of the intestines. Similarly, Johne's disease in cattle causes severe diarrhea. As a result of the disease cattle usually slowly perishes. While the cause of Johne's disease has been known, until now there had been no known cause for Crohn's disease. It has been most recently theorized that Crohn's (not Chrones, chrons, or chron's) disease is genetically linked. The British Scientists now seem to be able to explain how the presence of Mycobacterium paratuberculosis in a patient's body can cause Crohn's disease.
It has long been known that patients suffering from Crohn's disease have a higher than usual level of E.coli bacteria in their body. Similarly, Mycobacterium paratuberculosis has been known to be present in Crohn's disease tissue. But until now, nobody has been able to explain the bacteria's presence and connection to the disease. Now the British scientists have been able to observe that the bacteria, Mycobacterium paratuberculosis, inhibit the body's immune system response to E.coli bacteria.
Mycobacterium paratuberculosis discharges a mannose-containing molecule. Mannose is a type of sugar. This molecule stops macrophages, a type of white blood cells, from destroying E.coli bacteria in the patient's body. The increased level of E.coli bacteria weakens the immune systems response to other intestinal bacteria, including Mycobacterium paratuberculosis.
The scientists also determined that the bacteria could cause an increase in a circulating antibody protein (ASCA). Two-thirds of Crohn's disease patients have this type of protein indicating a likely infection with Mycobacterium paratuberculosis.
Clinical trials are planned to seek out treatment options through an antibiotic combination, which is aimed at eliminating Mycobacterium paratuberculosis in a Crohn's disease patient's body. If the scientists' assumption is correct, the disease should subside with the elimination of the bacteria.