Crohns disease bacteria
Crohns Disease is an inflammatory response that happens in the digestive tract most commonly from the lower small intestines through the colon to the anus. Crohns disease does sometimes manifest itself anywhere from the mouth to the anus but it isnt a common occurrence.
Researchers and scientists dont currently have conclusive evidence of the causative agent of Crohns disease bacteria but they do have several theories. One theory is that it is triggered by low stomach acid; another that it is an autoimmune problem and the third that bacteria may be behind the ulcers, fistulas and abdominal pain and cramping.
Until now doctors and microbiologists havent been able to culture particular bacteria from the blood of patients with Crohns disease bacteria. But today they have found a bacteria, Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (or MAP). Molecular biologists at the University of Central Florida found MAP in the blood of the patients tested with Crohns and none in the blood of healthy people.
MAP belongs to a class of microbes known to cause leprosy and tuberculosis. The bacteria lives inside the cell walls of the host but doesnt cause cell damage and doesnt have known toxins. Instead the damage comes from the hosts reaction to the bacteria. MAP will trigger an immune reaction against the bodys own tissue where MAP is hiding in this case potentially the gut walls.
The MAP cells have an amazing ability to shed their own cell walls and exist in a state that isnt easily seen under a light microscope. Then, possibly years later, it can regrow its cell wall and become stainable once again. Without its cell wall they are sphereoblasts.
When bacteria is present in the blood system it is assumed to be systemic, or a bacterial infection that is present throughout the whole body. The data with MAP doesnt suggest that it is a causative agent but at this time is a bystander in the process. The results to raise important questions however. Questions about what came first the Crohns or the infection as well as duplication of the results in other laboratories to confirm the results will go a long way toward determining if this discovery will have an affect on the prevention and treatment of Crohns disease.
Interestingly MAP bacterium is responsible for Johnes disease which is a similar intestinal disorder in cattle, sheep and goats. Scientists find this factor worrisome since this bacterium is found in animals and may be passed through milk and meat. It may be that pasteurization isnt doing the job that we believe it is.
At this time MAP has been isolated in patients from California, Texas, France and Australia as well as several other countries but the information is still relatively sparse. In order to isolate the MAP bacterium it has be removed from all of the other bacteria that normally grows in the gut. Researchers do this by using decontamination techniques that kill off one bacteria without harming the one they want to study. But, because the MAP bacterium can lose its protective cell wall the processing techniques can also kill them. Researchers are encouraged to have found a Crohns disease bacteria that may help to improve treatment options for people suffering from the symptoms of Crohns.
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