Potential Relief for Patients With Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Researchers from California, Japan and Israel may have discovered a potential form of relief for patients with inflammatory bowel disease.

More than 1 million Americans are estimated to have ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease — the two major forms of inflammatory bowel disease. These conditions, which can be painful and debilitating, can cause chronic inflammation of the digestive tracts.

Patients with inflammatory bowel disease suffer bouts of watery diarrhea and abdominal pain. There is no known medical cure for either ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, although medications can help symptoms.

Recently, researchers at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine and their colleagues in Japan and Israel published evidence showing an anti-inflammatory therapy offered relief in mouse models of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

The researchers explored how an immune system molecule called Toll-like receptor 9 eases inflammation.

Agents that activate Toll-like receptor 9, or TLR9, were given to two different groups of mice that appeared similar but were from different genetic strains. Reactions were different in the two strains of mice. The TLR9 activators inhibited the severity of experimental colitis but had no effect on the other group of mice.

To understand why the mice reacted differently, the researchers used a variety of approaches to explore why one strain responded to therapy, and the other was resistant. They determined the TLR9-induced protection occurs when proteins called type 1 IFN-alpha and IFN-beta were activated.

One of the study author’s indicated the team’s results point to an important protective and potential therapeutic role for type 1 IFN-alpha and IFN-beta.

SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2005;115:695-702

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