Scientists find how bacteria in cows' milk may cause Crohn's disease

Dec 10, 2007

Crohn’s is a condition that affects one in 800 people in the UK and causes chronic intestinal inflammation, leading to pain, bleeding and diarrhoea.

The team found that a bacterium called Mycobacterium paratuberculosis releases a molecule that prevents a type of white blood cell from killing E.coli bacteria found in the body. E.coli is known to be present within Crohn’s disease tissue in increased numbers.

It is thought that the Mycobacteria make their way into the body’s system via cows’ milk and other dairy products. In cattle it can cause an illness called Johne's disease - a wasting, diarrhoeal condition. Until now, however, it has been unclear how this bacterium could trigger intestinal inflammation in humans.

Professor Jon Rhodes, from the University’s School of Clinical Sciences, explains: “Mycobacterium paratuberculosis has been found within Crohn’s disease tissue but there has been much controversy concerning its role in the disease. We have now shown that these Mycobacteria release a complex molecule containing a sugar, called mannose. This molecule prevents a type of white blood cells, called macrophages, from killing internalised E.Coli.”

Scientists have previously shown that people with Crohn’s disease have increased numbers of a ‘sticky’ type of E.coli and weakened ability to fight off intestinal bacteria. The suppressive effect of the Mycobacterial molecule on this type of white blood cell suggests it is a likely mechanism for weakening the body’s defence against the bacteria.

Professor Rhodes added: "We also found that this bacterium is a likely trigger for a circulating antibody protein (ASCA) that is found in about two thirds of patients with Crohn's disease, suggesting that these people may have been infected by the Mycobacterium."

The team is beginning clinical trials to assess whether an antibiotic combination can be used to target the bacteria contained in white blood cells as a possible treatment for Crohn’s disease.

Source: University of Liverpool

Explore further: Second bird flu case confirmed in Canada

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Probiotic bacteria could help treat Crohn's disease

Mar 31, 2011

New research suggests that infection with a probiotic strain of E. coli bacteria could help treat an reduce the negative effects of another E. coli infection that may be associated with Crohn's disease. Researchrs from the ...

Banana plantain fibers could treat Crohn's disease

Aug 25, 2010

Crohn's is a condition that affects one in 800 people in the UK and causes chronic intestinal inflammation, leading to pain, bleeding and diarrhoea. Researchers are working with biotechnology company, Provexis, to test a ...

Promising probiotic treatment for inflammatory bowel disease

Jan 20, 2010

Bacteria that produce compounds to reduce inflammation and strengthen host defences could be used to treat inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Such probiotic microbes could be the most successful treatment for IBD to date, ...

Recommended for you

Ebola reveals shortcomings of African solidarity

7 hours ago

As Africa's leaders meet in Ethiopia to discuss the Ebola crisis, expectations of firm action will be tempered by criticism over the continent's poor record in the early stages of the epidemic.

Second bird flu case confirmed in Canada

Jan 30, 2015

The husband of a Canadian who was diagnosed earlier this week with bird flu after returning from a trip to China has also tested positive for the virus, health officials said Friday.

What exactly is coronavirus?

Jan 30, 2015

The conflicts in Syria and Iraq are straining public health systems and public health efforts meant to prevent and detect the spread of infectious diseases. This is generating a "perfect storm" of conditions for outbreaks. Among the infections raising concern is Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, caused by a type of coronavirus, which emerged in 2012. ...

Scientists find Ebola virus is mutating

Jan 30, 2015

(Medical Xpress)—Researchers working at Institut Pasteur in France have found that the Ebola virus is mutating "a lot" causing concern in the African countries where the virus has killed over eight thous ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.