Common parasite uncovers key cause of Crohn's

Common parasite uncovers key cause of Crohn's
Intestinal wall after Toxoplasma infection and inflammation, compared to undamaged intestinal wall.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Immune systems have their sinister side, especially when they have not learned how hard to fight. Crohn's disease and other inflammatory bowel diseases inflict more than a million Americans with debilitating pain and digestive unrest because of uncontrolled immune responses in the gut.

How this happens remained a mystery until immunologists at Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine caught a key culprit in : a cell from our own immune forces. With unconventional help from a common parasite, Eric Denkers, professor of immunology, and research associate Charlotte Egan identified a renegade cell responsible for this largely arcane and increasingly prevalent illness.

"Auto-immune diseases are on the rise in this country but their causes have remained largely unknown," said Denkers. "It's possible that these diseases are more common in the West because we're too clean. Exposure to germs trains immune systems how to respond to threats. Early protection from germs may contribute to the increasing prevalence of immune system overreactions in our population, leading to auto-immune problems like allergies and ."

Similar symptoms arise when some hosts first face the prevalent protozoan Toxoplasma gondii. Denkers' lab studies this parasite's arsenal of host-manipulating powers, but recently they have steered Toxoplasma research in an entirely new direction.

"We noticed that the initial these parasites can cause looks very similar to what happens during Crohn's disease," said Denkers, one of the first to study this connection. "Our lab has started using Toxoplasma to model Crohn's disease in humans and help us find the pivotal perpetrator, which has turned out to be a cell from our own immune forces."

Common parasite uncovers key cause of Crohn's
A single human lymphocyte, a white blood cell that acts as part of the immune system. Intraepithelial lymphocytes, which specialize in patrolling intestinal walls, can cause human Crohn's disease.

Specialized called intraepithelial patrol intestinal walls. Upon encountering invaders, they release messenger proteins that call more immune cells to the battleground. "Too many messenger proteins recruit too many immune cells, causing inflammation that can devastate the host's own tissue," Denkers explained. "Bad balance between good bacteria, bad bacteria, and immune interactions like inflammation cause Crohn's disease."

"For the first time we've discovered how infection can turn these immune cells pathogenic, stimulating them to cause disease, inflammation and necrosis in the small intestine," said Denkers. "This marks a major leap toward understanding human Crohn's disease. Unveiling this kind of immunological interplay may lead to improved prevention and care in an array of auto-immune diseases."

Denkers and colleagues published their discovery in Mucosal Immunology, followed by a review article discussing Toxoplasma infection as a model for Crohn's disease in the Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology in 2010.

Provided by Cornell University
Citation: Common parasite uncovers key cause of Crohn's (2011, February 23) retrieved 16 October 2019 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2011-02-common-parasite-uncovers-key-crohn.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Feb 23, 2011
With unconventional help from a common parasite, Eric Denkers, professor of immunology, and research associate Charlotte Egan identified a renegade cell responsible for this largely arcane and increasingly prevalent illness.

When I first read this line, for a second I thought they were referring to Eric Denkers as a common parasite. This is an interesting find. I know a few people with Crohn's Disease.

Feb 23, 2011
so what do you recommend doing now that we know this?surgery?diet?meds?something else? thank you for you research

Feb 23, 2011
so what do you recommend doing now that we know this?surgery?diet?meds?something else? thank you for you research

It seems like this research opens the door to new research in all of those areas since there are new clues as to what causes this disease.

Feb 23, 2011
ya i guess at the moment i am in the hospital awaiting surgery and am only 21 years old andi know how this thing goes once it goes it doesnt stop surgeries dont end and medicine increases and increases so it would be awesome to know a little more as far as where to go from here if anyone has any ideas or suggestions that would be great thank you

Feb 23, 2011
ShayShay. There are many people trying innoculation with Necator Americanus for Crohn's. You can google it and find out lots about it. There is a wiki and facebook groups to learn more.

Feb 23, 2011
ShayShay,
Have you heard of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet? Look up the book Breaking the Vicious Cycle by Elaine Gottshall on Amazon, and read all the many comments that people have made about being on the SCDiet. A lot of people have experienced full remission of symptoms. Sending you prayers and good wishes for a full recovery.

Feb 24, 2011
thank you guys so much for your feedback i am going to try and do the scd diet i have looked into it it is an extremely hard diet but i think i might be willing to try it out so i hope to get out of here without surgery once again thank you

Feb 24, 2011
Another note for ShayShay:
I'm on the SCDiet. Yes, it is quite different than eating the SAD (Standard American Diet) and requires more work, but it is also very healing and good for you--not nearly as hard as what you are going through now. There is a lot of support on line. For a different perspective, read The Paleo Solution (Robb Wolfe). The Paleo Solution is the "healthy people" version of the SCDiet. It is NOT a substitute for the SCDiet but will give you perspective on why this type of eating is so much better for you than the SAD. There is also a book written by a young guy going through the same thing you are now and his healing through the SCDiet: Colitis and Me by Raman Prasad. I haven't read the book, but the amazon reviews make me think it would be right for you. Raman also has a website with recipes and support for SCDiet. Best of luck.

Feb 24, 2011
Another note for ShayShay:
I'm on the SCDiet. Yes, it is quite different than eating the SAD (Standard American Diet) and requires more work, but it is also very healing and good for you--not nearly as hard as what you are going through now. There is a lot of support on line. For a different perspective, read The Paleo Solution (Robb Wolfe). The Paleo Solution is the "healthy people" version of the SCDiet. It is NOT a substitute for the SCDiet but will give you perspective on why this type of eating is so much better for you than the SAD. There is also a book written by a young guy going through the same thing you are now and his healing through the SCDiet: Colitis and Me by Raman Prasad. I haven't read the book, but the amazon reviews make me think it would be right for you. Raman also has a website with recipes and support for SCDiet. Best of luck.

thank you for all your help ill look into it

Feb 28, 2011
Great find. But even if it leads to any effective treatment/ cure, researchers will slap a pretty little price tag on it so people like myself cant afford it. This disease hasn't only been devestating to me and my family, but our wallets aswell.

Feb 28, 2011
Great find. But even if it leads to any effective treatment/ cure, researchers will slap a pretty little price tag on it so people like myself cant afford it. This disease hasn't only been devestating to me and my family, but our wallets aswell.


i agree with you have you looked into getting disability?

Mar 08, 2011
ya i guess at the moment i am in the hospital awaiting surgery and am only 21 years old andi know how this thing goes once it goes it doesnt stop surgeries dont end and medicine increases and increases so it would be awesome to know a little more as far as where to go from here if anyone has any ideas or suggestions that would be great thank you


I have moderate-severe Crohn's Disease (well... 'had') and have goteen off all my medication. I started taking Cat's Claw about a year ago which is a powerful anti-inflammatory herb. At 4500mg it could suppress the most painful flare ups in minutes. There were times where I couldn't even walk upright and literally minutes after taking Cat's Claw, I would be fine. I have improved immensely and am able to be much more lenient with my diet. It's a really great herb and I recommend it to anyone who has Crohn's or IBD. Also the SCD is a really good diet but it's really hard to follow. Anyways, best of wishes!

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