Non-pathogenic bacteria block inflammatory response pathway in intestinal tract

uisitely sensitive to bacteria and their products. Now we have found a mechanism by which non-pathogenic bacteria block the inflammatory pathway and prevent cells in the G.I tract from responding as any other cell would respond. This mechanism for tolerance also could be fundamental to the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis) and to other infectious intestinal diseases," he said.

Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are diseases in which individuals develop a chronic and debilitating intestinal inflammatory response. Inflammatory bowel disease is one of the last few major unexplained diseases, although scientists have long suspected that it is related to lack of tolerance to the community of intestinal organisms. There is a possibility that the balance of beneficial to non-beneficial bacteria is altered in these patients," explains Dr. Neish. "A genetic flaw in the epithelial lining of the G.I. tract could also cause an abnormal response to the non-pathogenic bacteria."

The discovery also may shed light on the growing field of probiotics, in which investigators are experimenting with various species of benign bacteria that can be ingested with foods, such as lacto-bacillus (found in yogurt), to improve the intestinal health of patients with inflammatory bowel disease. The Emory research could elucidate a potential mechanism for the positive effects of probiotics.

"It's interesting that the organisms we are studying are non-pathogenic and have no ability to elicit inflammation themselves, yet they are able to block inflammatory pathways and create tolerance for themselves and perhaps other organisms," said Dr. Neish. "It turns out that some non-pathogenic bacteria have a significant reciprocal ecological interaction with the host. The host can mount an immune response to control resident bacteria, but even non-pathogenic bacteria have an ability to influence that immune response."


Contact: Holly Korschun
Emory University Health Sciences Center

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