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Probiotic bacteria promising as Crohn’s disease treatment

Posted Apr 03 2011 12:00am

ASM.org - New research suggests that infection with a probiotic strain of E. coli bacteria could help treat an reduce the negative effects of another E. coli infection that may be associated with Crohn’s disease. Researchrs from the University of Auckland, New Zealand publish their results in the April 2011 issue of the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

Crohn’s disease is a common chronic disorder that affects the gastrointestinal tract and is believed to develop as a result of an aberrant immune response to intestinal microbes in a genetically susceptible host. Over the last decade, high levels of adherent invasive E. coli (AIEC) have been reported. One study isolated the bacteria in 36 percent of Crohn’s sufferers compared to just 6 percent of controls.

Since Crohn’s disease is a clinical subtype of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and others have reported successful treatment of IBC with the probiotic E. coli Nissle 1917 (EcN), the researchers investigated the impact EcN might have on an already established infection with AIEC in cell cultures mimicking those found in the lining of the intestines.

They found that treatment with the probiotic EcN not only helped prevent the AIEC reference strain LF82 from invading the cells and establishing infection, it also appears to modulate production of immune proteins that cause inflammation.

“This study is the first to our knowledge to show that EcN can reduce some of the negative effects associated with the strain LF82 in an already established AIEC infection and emphasizes the potential of EcN in IBD treatment. In particular the use of this probiotic could be of interest in Crohn’s disease patients harboring pathogenic AIEC,” write the researchers.

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