PHOTO:Team, GMFH Editing, and Kristina Campbell. "Gut Microbiota Studies Lead to New Understandings of IBD." Gut Microbiota for Health. N.p., 02 Mar. 2016. Web.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) affects approximately 1.5 million Americans and the incidence seems to be increasing worldwide (1). The development of the IBD disease is currently thought to involve an inappropriate and persistent inflammatory response to commensal gut microbes (relationship between two organisms where one organism, the bacteria in this case, benefits from the human host without affecting it) in genetically susceptible individuals. Although host genetics play a critical role in disease pathogenesis, concordance rates in monozygotic twins of 16% for ulcerative colitis and about 35% for Crohn's disease indicate that non-genetic factors play a substantial role in the development of IBD (4)
The notion that the gut microbiota plays a critical role in the development of IBD is supported by a multitude of animal studies showing that bacterial colonization of the gut is critical for the development of intestinal inflammation (2). Clinical observations in patients with IBD also support a role for the gut microbiota (bacteria that harbours the gut) since IBD usually affects intestinal regions with the highest level of bacteria, and both fecal diversion and the use of antibiotics can be effective in the management of Crohn's disease (3).
Population-based studies suggest that IBD is unevenly distributed throughout the world with the highest disease rates occurring in industrialized nations (5). A “Westernized” diet rich in animal fat and protein while low in fiber, may alter the gut microbiome in a way that increases the risk for the development of IBD. The development of a “dysbiotic” microbiome (population of bacteria in human host) has, indeed, been the source of speculation as an etiologic factor in disease pathogenesis (6).
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(1)Molodecky NA, Soon IS, Rabi DM, Ghali WA, Ferris M, Chernoff G, Benchimol EI, Panaccione R, Ghosh S, Barkema HW, Kaplan GG. Increasing incidence and prevalence of the inflammatory bowel diseases with time, based on systematic review. Gastroenterology. 2012;142:46–54 e42.