Gut Infections May Be Linked to Inflammatory Bowel Disease

298

Credit: Michael Molloy and Lily Koo, NIAID Biological Imaging Facility

Gut Infections May Be Linked to Inflammatory Bowel Disease

A gastrointestinal infection canِ send theِ immune system intoِ overdrive, newِ research finds, causing immune cells toِ target beneficial gut bacteria asِ well asِ the bad.
The findings inِ mice suggest, butِ do notِ prove, a potential link betweenِ gut infections andِ the laterِ development ofِ inflammatory bowel disease suchِ asِ Crohn’s.
More work isِ needed toِ establish thatِ connection, butِ it’s possibleِ that long-lived immune cells couldِ causeِ problems overِ time, saidِ study researcher Timothy Hand, a postdoctoral researcher atِ the National Institute ofِ Allergy andِ Infectious Disease.

Good gut bacteria

The gut isِ home toِ thriving communities ofِ beneficial bacteria, living inِ symbiosis withِ theirِ host (that wouldِ beِ you).
But theِ gastrointestinal tract isِ alsoِ a common site ofِ infection, Hand said.
He andِ his colleagues wereِ interested inِ howِ the immune system deals withِ theseِ nasty invaders whileِ stillِ tolerating theِ good bacteria inِ the gut.

Inflammation and Crohn’s

Most likely, Hand said, theِ immune system isِ indirectly responsible forِ spreading theِ good gut bacteria around.
A strong immune response canِ damage body cells, including theِ gut cells thatِ usually keepِ beneficial bacteria onِ the insideِ of theِ intestines.
Once theِ parasite infection isِ over, theِ researchers found, theِ immune system locks inِ a memory ofِ the invaders itِ fought inِ memory T cells.

Follow Stephanie Pappas on Twitter @sipappas or LiveScience @livescience.
We’re also on Facebook & Google+.