IBD etiology clarified.
Article Type: Clinical report
Subject: Inflammatory bowel diseases (Diagnosis)
Inflammatory bowel diseases (Development and progression)
T cells (Measurement)
T cells (Physiological aspects)
Cytokines (Physiological aspects)
Cytokines (Measurement)
Author: Hunter, Kim
Pub Date: 03/22/2010
Publication: Name: Australian Journal of Medical Herbalism Publisher: National Herbalists Association of Australia Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 National Herbalists Association of Australia ISSN: 1033-8330
Issue: Date: Spring, 2010 Source Volume: 22 Source Issue: 1
Accession Number: 223823997
Full Text: Eastaff-Leung N et al. 2009. Foxp3 regulatory T cells, Th17 effector cells, and cytokine environment in inflammatory bowel disease. J Clin Immunol Nov 2009 (Epub ahead of print).

This research from the University of Adelaide could help clarify a seeming predisposition to such diseases as Crohn's and ulcerative colitis by uncovering among sufferers an imbalance of the regulatory cells that control the immune system. Inflammation in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) may be caused by the loss of homeostasis between CD4(+) CD25(high) Foxp3(+) regulatory cells, T (reg), and proinflammatory Th17 cells. The aim of the study was to investigate T (reg) and Th17 cells in the peripheral blood and intestinal mucosa of IBD patients and to assess the mucosal cytokine environment.

T (reg) and Th17 cells were measured in peripheral blood of 63 IBD patients and 28 controls by flow cytometry. Cytokine levels were also measured in intestinal biopsies of 24 IBD and 18 control subjects. Results showed a decrease in T (reg) and increase in Th17 cells in the peripheral blood of IBD patients. When measured in the same patient and expressed as a ratio, a significant decrease in T (reg)/ Th17 ratio was observed in IBD. Elevated cytokines were observed in the mucosa of IBD patients. These results indicate that IBD is associated with a reduced ratio of T (reg) to Th17 cells in peripheral blood and is characterised by a proinflammatory cytokine microenvironment which supports the continued generation of Th17 cells.

The authors believe this could help provide a diagnostic tool for gastrointestinal diseases, thus reducing the need for colonoscopies. If it can establish that all people suffering Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis have an imbalance of these regulatory cells, it may be possible to develop a blood test that confirms suspected cases of these diseases.

There is evidence to show that diet and lifestyle play a significant role in the development of gastrointestinal disease. All the food we eat is foreign to our body; in healthy people the immune system has a mechanism to tolerate these foods and not react. But some people do not have enough of these regulatory cells and their body overreacts and goes into attack mode. That is where the inflammation occurs, and we need to look at our diet as well as the obsession in Western countries with cleanliness and antibacterial disinfectants. Children need to be exposed to bacteria as they are developing in order to build their immune system naturally.

Kim Hunter MNHAA

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