Crohn’s disease – a type of inflammatory bowel disease – affects three-quarters of a million Americans. The causes underlying Crohn’s have been murky, but new research is adding some clarity to this disease. An international research team led by the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine recently announced that fungus in the GI tract plays a key role in Crohn’s disease development.
People with Crohn’s disease experience diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss, and fatigue. These troubling symptoms could be the result of the immune system mistakenly attacking the digestive system. This immune attack is now thought to be triggered by two bacteria and a fungus. The role of the bacteria were previously suspected, while this study adds in a new culprit of a fungus. Crohn’s patients in this new study were likely to have these bacteria and fungus in their gut, when compared to control groups comprised of family members without Crohn’s and people with no family members with Crohn’s disease.
The researchers theorize that the bacteria and fungus interact in such a way to create a layer that adheres to the intestinal lining and triggers inflammation. This discovery sets the stage for new treatment (and ideally cures) for this difficult disease.
Hoarau G, Mukherjee PK, Gower-Rousseau C, et al. Bacteriome and mycobiome interactions underscore microbial dysbiosis in familial Crohn’s disease. mBio September 2016 DOI: 10.1128/mBio.01250-16.