AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Tag: Chron’s disease

Gut bacterial and fungal community interactions identified for first time as a factor in Crohn’s disease

Recent studies have found that the interactions between the gut bacteriome and mycobiome are closely related to the development and severity of Crohn’s Disease. Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease, that causes inflammation of the lining of your digestive tract. It can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition.

In the past, the majority of studies have focused on the bacterial microbiota (bacteriome), and little attention has been paid to the fungal lining of the stomach (mycobiome). In a recent study, led by Professor Mahmoud A. Ghannoum from teh Center for Medical Mycology at the Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, has found new bacteria and fungi interactions that may play major roles in the development of Chron’s Disease. In his study, Prof. Ghannoum found an increase in possible pathogenic bacteria and a decrease in beneficial bacteria in CD patients.

Three organisms often found included the S. marcescens, C. tropicalis, and E. coli. The three organisms work together to create a bio film on the inner linings of the stomach. As we’ve learned in class, bacteria are unicellular organisms. They have no nuclear membrane, making them Prokaryotic. The three organisms C. tropicalis, S. marescens and E. coli were highly correlated in individuals with CD and may be key determinants of CD development.

I found this study fascinating because it brings us one step closer to discovering the possible causes of Crohn’s Disease. Approximately 1.6 million Americans suffer from Crohn’s Disease. Finding a cause, would be a huge gain in trying to find a cure. Having a loved one who suffers this disease, it gives my family and I hope for a healthy and pain free future. The questions I’d have, is why do those three specific types of bacteria increase in Crohn’s patients? Or how do they get there in such large numbers?


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Dysbiosis: Does Imbalance Help?

The gut microbiome is a very large collection of mutualistic relationships between microorganisms and an animal. In our case, these microorganisms control very much of the digestive tract and have influences throughout the body. Crohn’s disease is something that can happen due to imbalance in this microbiome or “dysbiosis“. Usually marked by inflammation in the digestive tract, this disease is a result of an autoimmune response against possibly microbial antigens. Although there is no cure, scientists have determined the best course of action is to relieve the symptoms. This results in disruptions to the gut microbiome.

Inflammation of the colon due to Crohn’s disease

Scientists studying responses in the gut microbiome have found that treatment for Crohn’s disease have caused various responses in the people in the experiment. Antibiotics have been found to decrease bacterial growth in the tract while allowing fungus to grow more freely. Formula diets relieved inflammation and other symptoms but didn’t repair bacterial balance in the microbiome. Immunosuppressants decreased inflammation and bacterial dysbiosis at the expense of increasing fungal dysbiosis. All these methods don’t seem to work out.

But what if the microbiome does not need to be restored to remain healthy? Formula diets caused more dysbiosis but were able to alleviate symptoms. Suddenly, the microbiome does not seem to be as necessary as previous studies suggest. However, this experiment only measures a few variables. Results beneficial to treatments for Crohn’s disease may cause something bad to happen elsewhere in the microbiome. Replacing the gut microbiome would definitely have massive side effects.

Perhaps one day, we could find some way to substitute parts of our mutualistic relationship with the bacteria inhabiting our gut. However, that day seems far off. For now, we should probably stick with what we have.

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