Those who have experienced moderate food poisoning know that while its symptoms can be intense, they typically dissipate after a few days. However, new research is showing that people who retain a particular bacterium in their gut after a bout of food poisoning, may be at an increased risk of developing Crohn’s disease later in life.
Using a mouse model of Crohn’s disease, the researchers from McMaster University discovered that acute infectious gastroenteritis caused by common food-poisoning bacteria accelerates the growth of adherent-invasive E. coli (AIEC) — a bacterium that has been linked to the development of Crohn’s.
Crohn’s disease is a debilitating bowel disease that causes inflammation and affects the lining of the digestive tract. It can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, anemia and fatigue, and currently infects about 700,000 people each year in the U.S. alone. Crohn’s can strike at any age, although most people experience onset between 15 and 35 years old.
Even after the mice in the study had eliminated the food-poisoning bacteria, researchers still observed increased levels of AIEC in the gut, which led to worsened symptoms over a long period of time. The researchers said AIEC are among the bacteria that has been linked to Crohn’s, as several laboratories have reported a higher prevalence of E. coil in Crohn’s patients compared to healthy subjects.
One article states the E. coli are said to share an “evolutionary ancestry” with extraintestinal pathogenic E. coli. Crohn’s is more common in individuals exposed to infectious gastroenteritis caused by Salmonella and other enteric pathogens, “sometimes with onset times on the order of years after the infectious episode,” the researchers reported.
“This is a lifelong disease that often strikes people in their early years, leading to decades of suffering, an increased risk of colorectal cancer, and an increased risk of premature death,” Brian Coombes, senior author of the study, said in another article.
Coombes added that the study’s results mean new diagnostic tools should be developed to identify AIEC-colonized individuals who may be at greater risk for Crohn’s disease following an episode of acute infectious gastroenteritis.
“We need to understand the root origins of this disease — and to use this information to invigorate a new pipeline of treatments and preventions. It has never been more pressing.”
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