‘Good’ bacteria is potential solution to unchecked inflammation seen in bowel diseases
Beneficial bacteria may be the key to helping to reverse a cycle of gut inflammation seen in certain inflammatory bowel diseases, University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers have found.
In a study published in journal Nature Immunology, researchers led by Jenny P.Y. Ting, PhD, Lineberger member and the William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of Genetics, describe how inflammation can go unchecked in the absence of a certain inflammation inhibitor called NLRP12. In a harmful feedback loop, this inflammation can upset the balance of bacteria living in the gut – part of the community of micro-organisms in the human body known as the microbiome. They found in preclinical models that certain types of “bad” bacteria were more abundant, while there were lower levels of beneficial bugs in the absence of NLRP12. That led to even more inflammation in their models.
But researchers found that adding back a type of beneficial bacteria that normally grows in the gut can help end this cycle, suggesting a new treatment for inflammatory bowel disease.
“At this point we have limited treatment options and no cure for people with inflammatory bowel disease,” said Justin E. Wilson, PhD, research assistant professor in the UNC School of Medicine Department of Genetics and co-first author of the study. “These diseases can be really difficult, impacting patients’ quality of life and their finances. We suggest a possible simple fix for people who have a specific disease signature.”
The two most common inflammatory bowel diseases, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, affect an estimated 1.6 million people in the United States, according to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. They can lead to diarrhoea, fatigue and abdominal cramping. People with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease involving the colon have higher risk of colon or rectal cancer. Scientists know that these diseases involve an abnormal reaction of the immune system to food, bacteria or other materials in the intestines.