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Concept: Inflammatory bowel disease


The prevalence of inflammatory diseases is increasing in modern urban societies. Inflammation increases risk of stress-related pathology; consequently, immunoregulatory or antiinflammatory approaches may protect against negative stress-related outcomes. We show that stress disrupts the homeostatic relationship between the microbiota and the host, resulting in exaggerated inflammation. Repeated immunization with a heat-killed preparation of Mycobacterium vaccae, an immunoregulatory environmental microorganism, reduced subordinate, flight, and avoiding behavioral responses to a dominant aggressor in a murine model of chronic psychosocial stress when tested 1-2 wk following the final immunization. Furthermore, immunization with M. vaccae prevented stress-induced spontaneous colitis and, in stressed mice, induced anxiolytic or fear-reducing effects as measured on the elevated plus-maze, despite stress-induced gut microbiota changes characteristic of gut infection and colitis. Immunization with M. vaccae also prevented stress-induced aggravation of colitis in a model of inflammatory bowel disease. Depletion of regulatory T cells negated protective effects of immunization with M. vaccae on stress-induced colitis and anxiety-like or fear behaviors. These data provide a framework for developing microbiome- and immunoregulation-based strategies for prevention of stress-related pathologies.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, Bacteria, Pathology, Infection, Ulcerative colitis, Inflammatory bowel disease, Anti-inflammatory


The intestinal tract is inhabited by a large and diverse community of microbes collectively referred to as the gut microbiota. While the gut microbiota provides important benefits to its host, especially in metabolism and immune development, disturbance of the microbiota-host relationship is associated with numerous chronic inflammatory diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease and the group of obesity-associated diseases collectively referred to as metabolic syndrome. A primary means by which the intestine is protected from its microbiota is via multi-layered mucus structures that cover the intestinal surface, thereby allowing the vast majority of gut bacteria to be kept at a safe distance from epithelial cells that line the intestine. Thus, agents that disrupt mucus-bacterial interactions might have the potential to promote diseases associated with gut inflammation. Consequently, it has been hypothesized that emulsifiers, detergent-like molecules that are a ubiquitous component of processed foods and that can increase bacterial translocation across epithelia in vitro, might be promoting the increase in inflammatory bowel disease observed since the mid-twentieth century. Here we report that, in mice, relatively low concentrations of two commonly used emulsifiers, namely carboxymethylcellulose and polysorbate-80, induced low-grade inflammation and obesity/metabolic syndrome in wild-type hosts and promoted robust colitis in mice predisposed to this disorder. Emulsifier-induced metabolic syndrome was associated with microbiota encroachment, altered species composition and increased pro-inflammatory potential. Use of germ-free mice and faecal transplants indicated that such changes in microbiota were necessary and sufficient for both low-grade inflammation and metabolic syndrome. These results support the emerging concept that perturbed host-microbiota interactions resulting in low-grade inflammation can promote adiposity and its associated metabolic effects. Moreover, they suggest that the broad use of emulsifying agents might be contributing to an increased societal incidence of obesity/metabolic syndrome and other chronic inflammatory diseases.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, Bacteria, Gut flora, Nutrition, Ulcerative colitis, Gastroenterology, Inflammatory bowel disease


Childhood exposure to a farm environment has been shown to protect against the development of inflammatory diseases such as allergy, asthma, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, Asthma, Infection, Ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, Inflammatory bowel disease, Hygiene hypothesis



Mucoid structures that coat the epithelium play an essential role in keeping the intestinal microbiota at a safe distance from host cells. Encroachment of bacteria into the normally almost-sterile inner mucus layer has been observed in inflammatory bowel disease and in mouse models of colitis. Moreover, such microbiota encroachment has also been observed in mouse models of metabolic syndrome, which are associated low-grade intestinal inflammation. Hence, we investigated if microbiota encroachment might correlate with indices of metabolic syndrome in humans.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, Bacteria, Ulcerative colitis, Gastroenterology, Inflammatory bowel disease


Factors affecting the developing neonatal gut microbiome and immune networks may increase the risk of developing complex immune disorders such as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). In particular, peripartum antibiotics have been suggested as risk factors for human IBD, although direct evidence is lacking. Therefore, we examined the temporal impact of the commonly used antibiotic cefoperazone on both maternal and offspring microbiota when administered to dams during the peripartum period in the IL-10-deficient murine colitis model. By rigorously controlling for cage, gender, generational, and murine pathobiont confounders, we observed that offspring from cefoperazone-exposed dams develop a persistent gut dysbiosis into adulthood associated with skewing of the host immune system and increased susceptibility to spontaneous and chemically dextran sodium sulfate (DSS)-induced colitis. Thus, early life exposure to antibiotic-induced maternal dysbiosis during a critical developmental window for gut microbial assemblage and immune programming elicits a lasting impact of increased IBD risk on genetically susceptible offspring.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, Bacteria, Ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, Gastroenterology, Inflammatory bowel disease, Antibiotic


The increased risks conferred by inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) to the development of colorectal cancer (CRC) gave rise to the term “colitis-associated cancer” and the concept that inflammation promotes colon tumorigenesis. A condition more common than IBD is low-grade inflammation, which correlates with altered gut microbiota composition and metabolic syndrome, both present in many cases of CRC. Recent findings suggest that low-grade inflammation in the intestine is promoted by consumption of dietary emulsifiers, a ubiquitous component of processed foods which alter the composition of gut microbiota. Here, we demonstrate in a pre-clinical model of colitis-induced CRC that regular consumption of dietary emulsifiers carboxymethylcellulose or polysorbate-80 exacerbated tumor development. Enhanced tumor development was associated with an altered microbiota metagenome characterized by elevated levels of lipopolysaccharide and flagellin. We found that emulsifier-induced alterations in the microbiome were necessary and sufficient to drive alterations in major proliferation and apoptosis signaling pathways thought to govern tumor development. Overall, our findings support the concept that perturbations in host-microbiota interactions that cause low-grade gut inflammation can promote colon carcinogenesis.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, Cancer, Bacteria, Ulcerative colitis, Colon, Large intestine, Inflammatory bowel disease


BACKGROUND: & Aims: The marijuana plant Cannabis sativa has been reported to produce beneficial effects for patients with inflammatory bowel diseases, but these have not been investigated in controlled trials. We performed a prospective trial to determine whether cannabis can induce remission in patients with Crohn’s disease. METHODS: We studied 21 patients (mean age 40±14 years, 13 male) with Crohn’s Disease and activity index (CDAI) scores >200 who did not respond to therapy with steroids, immunomodulators, or anti-tumor necrosis factor-α agents. Patients were randomly assigned to groups given cannabis, twice daily, in the form of cigarettes containing 11.5 mg of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or placebo containing cannabis flowers from which the THC had been extracted. Disease activity and laboratory tests were assessed during 8 weeks of treatment and 2 weeks thereafter. RESULTS: Complete remission (a CDAI score <150) was achieved by 5/11 subjects in the cannabis group (45%) and 1/10 in the placebo group (10%; P=.43). A clinical response (a decrease in CDAI score of >100) was observed in 10/11 subjects in the cannabis group (90%; from 330±105 to 152±109) and 4/10 in the placebo group (40%; from 373±94 to 306±143; P=.028). Three patients in the cannabis group were weaned from steroid dependency. Subjects receiving cannabis reported improved appetite and sleep, with no significant side effects. CONCLUSION: Although the primary endpoint of the study (induction of remission) was not achieved, a short course (8 week) of THC-rich cannabis produced significant clinical, steroid-free benefits to 11 patients with active CD, compared to placebo, without side effects. Further studies, with larger patient groups and a non-smoking mode of intake, are warranted. NCT01040910.

Concepts: Clinical trial, Ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, Inflammatory bowel disease, Placebo, Cannabis, Cannabis sativa


Diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is diagnosed through clinical criteria after excluding “organic” conditions, and can be precipitated by acute gastroenteritis. Cytolethal distending toxin B (CdtB) is produced by bacteria that cause acute gastroenteritis, and a post-infectious animal model demonstrates that host antibodies to CdtB cross-react with vinculin in the host gut, producing an IBS-like phenotype. Therefore, we assessed circulating anti-CdtB and anti-vinculin antibodies as biomarkers for D-IBS in human subjects. Subjects with D-IBS based on Rome criteria (n=2375) were recruited from a large-scale multicenter clinical trial for D-IBS (TARGET 3). Subjects with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) (n=142), subjects with celiac disease (n=121), and healthy controls (n=43) were obtained for comparison. Subjects with IBD and celiac disease were recruited based on the presence of intestinal complaints and histologic confirmation of chronic inflammatory changes in the colon or small intestine. Subjects with celiac disease were also required to have an elevated tTG and biopsy. All subjects were aged between 18 and 65 years. Plasma levels of anti-CdtB and anti-vinculin antibodies were determined by ELISA, and compared between groups. Anti-CdtB titers were significantly higher in D-IBS subjects compared to IBD, healthy controls and celiac disease (P<0.001). Anti-vinculin titers were also significantly higher in IBS (P<0.001) compared to the other groups. The area-under-the-receiver operating curves (AUCs) were 0.81 and 0.62 for diagnosis of D-IBS against IBD for anti-CdtB and anti-vinculin, respectively. Both tests were less specific in differentiating IBS from celiac disease. Optimization demonstrated that for anti-CdtB (optical density≥2.80) the specificity, sensitivity and likelihood ratio were 91.6%, 43.7 and 5.2, respectively, and for anti-vinculin (OD≥1.68) were 83.8%, 32.6 and 2.0, respectively. These results confirm that anti-CdtB and anti-vinculin antibodies are elevated in D-IBS compared to non-IBS subjects. These biomarkers may be especially helpful in distinguishing D-IBS from IBD in the workup of chronic diarrhea.

Concepts: Ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, Gastroenterology, Inflammatory bowel disease, Irritable bowel syndrome, Coeliac disease, Diarrhea, Gastroenteritis


Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs), including Crohn’s disease (CD), are genetically linked to host pathways that implicate an underlying role for aberrant immune responses to intestinal microbiota. However, patterns of gut microbiome dysbiosis in IBD patients are inconsistent among published studies. Using samples from multiple gastrointestinal locations collected prior to treatment in new-onset cases, we studied the microbiome in the largest pediatric CD cohort to date. An axis defined by an increased abundance in bacteria which include Enterobacteriaceae, Pasteurellacaea, Veillonellaceae, and Fusobacteriaceae, and decreased abundance in Erysipelotrichales, Bacteroidales, and Clostridiales, correlates strongly with disease status. Microbiome comparison between CD patients with and without antibiotic exposure indicates that antibiotic use amplifies the microbial dysbiosis associated with CD. Comparing the microbial signatures between the ileum, the rectum, and fecal samples indicates that at this early stage of disease, assessing the rectal mucosal-associated microbiome offers unique potential for convenient and early diagnosis of CD.

Concepts: Immune system, Medicine, Bacteria, Ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, Colonoscopy, Gastroenterology, Inflammatory bowel disease