'Good' bug may have a role in bowel disease

December 11, 2012

(Medical Xpress)—A bug thought to be one of the 'good bacteria' in our gut may actually have a role in the development of a bowel disorder that is on the rise in Scotland.

That is the possibility being raised by University of Aberdeen scientists who have published research which found significantly high levels of Faecalibacterium prausnitizii in the colon of with Crohn's disease.

Up until now the bug - one of the most common found in the gut - has been associated with Crohn's disease but in a 'protective' way, because other studies have found it in low levels in patients with Crohn's, and because it has anti-inflammatory properties.

The findings have surprised scientists because it goes against current thinking. However they stress more research is needed into F. prausnitzii before they really understand the part the bug may play in the disorder, which has increased five-fold in Scottish children over the last 35 years.

Researchers recruited children from Aberdeen, Glasgow and Dundee onto their study which was looking for potential bacterial triggers for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) - Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis - which affects around 6% of the Scottish population.

Children were recruited when they attended hospital for a to confirm or rule out whether they had IBD.

Dr Richard Hansen, Clinical Lecturer in at the University of Aberdeen, was the study co-ordinator for the work just published in the .

He said: "There is a lot of research into inflammatory bowel disease but much of that has focused on Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis in adults.

"We wanted to study as 'pure' a population as possible - by that I mean people who have not yet had an intervention or treatment for their IBD, and are less likely to have other illnesses, or to have made , such as being a smoker or .

"Ours is a unique study because this type of research cohort has not been studied by IBD researchers before."

Blood and tissue samples were taken from patients who were recruited over a three year period and were aged between two and 16 years.

Recruits from this study came from the larger BISCUIT- Bacteria in in Scottish Children Undergoing Investigation before Treatment - study which recruited a total of 100 children over three years, including 44 presenting for the first time with IBD and 42 who had a normal bowel.

Thirty four recruits were selected for a more detailed analysis, including 11 with Crohn's disease, 11 with and 12 'controls' with a normal bowel.

Bacteria in the samples were then identified using the latest DNA 'sequencing' technology.

Dr Georgina Hold, Senior Lecturer in Gastroenterology, at the University of Aberdeen and senior author on the study, said: "We found no significant changes in types of bacteria present across the three groups although there was less variety in the species of bacteria in kids with Crohn's disease.

"However we did see a significant increase in the bacterium Faecalibacterium prausnitzii in children with Crohn's disease.

"This was a surprise because other studies of patients with Crohn's disease have reported a reduction in levels of this bug which supports current thinking that it is somehow protective.

"However our finding suggests that this particular bug may not always be a 'good' bacterium and may actually contribute to the development of the disease."

Dr Hansen added: "We now plan to carry out a further study to look at Faecalibacterium prausnitzii specifically and to relate this to a liquid diet treatment that is commonly used to treat in children.

"We also need to understand more about how to restore and retain the normal bacterial communities within the gut."

Explore further: Study on inflammatory bowel disease in First Nations people adds to understanding of disease

Related Stories

Study on inflammatory bowel disease in First Nations people adds to understanding of disease

April 10, 2012
Inflammatory bowel disease is relatively rare in Canadian First Nations people but common in white people, possibly due to different genetic variants, according to a new study in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) ...

Inflammatory bowel disease emerges as a global disease

January 4, 2012
The incidence and prevalence of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are increasing with time and in different regions around the world, according to a new study in Gastroenterology, the official journal of the American Gastroenterological ...

Recommended for you

Targeting 'broken' metabolism in immune cells reduces inflammatory disease

July 12, 2017
The team, led by researchers at Imperial College London, Queen Mary University of London and Ergon Pharmaceuticals, believes the approach could offer new hope in the treatment of inflammatory conditions like arthritis, autoimmune ...

A perturbed skin microbiome can be 'contagious' and promote inflammation, study finds

June 29, 2017
Even in healthy individuals, the skin plays host to a menagerie of bacteria, fungi and viruses. Growing scientific evidence suggests that this lively community, collectively known as the skin microbiome, serves an important ...

Inflammatory bowel disease: Scientists zoom in on genetic culprits

June 28, 2017
Scientists have closed in on specific genes responsible for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) from a list of over 600 genes that were suspects for the disease. The team from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and their collaborators ...

Trials show unique stem cells a potential asthma treatment

June 28, 2017
A study led by scientists at Monash University has shown that a new therapy developed through stem cell technology holds promise as a treatment for chronic asthma.

Researchers find piece in inflammatory disease puzzle

May 23, 2017
Inflammation is the process by which the body responds to injury or infection but when this process becomes out of control it can cause disease. Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) researchers, in collaboration with ...

Researchers reveal potential target for the treatment of skin inflammation in eczema and psoriasis

May 22, 2017
Superficially, psoriasis and atopic dermatitis may appear similar but their commonalities are only skin deep. Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is primarily driven by an allergic reaction, while psoriasis is considered ...


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.