Crohn’s: How stress can increase bacteria associated with disease

Researchers studied the impact of psychological stress on Crohn’s disease in a mouse model.
Psychological stress in mice caused an increase in adherent-invasive E. coli (AIEC) in the gut.
Stress also eliminated the cells that make IL-22, a protein that protects the intestinal lining and can prevent Crohn’s flare-ups.
The researchers believe their study could lead to the development of new treatments, including treatment with IL-22, a narrow-spectrum antibiotic, or both.
In recent years, a lot of research has been done on stress and its effects on human health. Scientists have found that stress increases the risk of stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes. It can also negatively affect the gut, causing problems like constipation.

Today, a team of researchers from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, discovered a link between psychological stress and Crohn’s disease.

Using a rodent model, the team observed how stress increased bacteria, such as E. coli, in the gut and also negatively affected a cytokine that helps protect the gut lining from invading bacteria.

Bacteria, such as E. coli, entering the gut can cause Crohn’s flare-ups.

The study is published in the journal Nature CommunicationsTrusted Source.

What is Crohn’s disease?
Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. The gastrointestinal tract includes everything a person’s body needs to eat, digest, and expel food and waste. It includes the mouth, stomach, intestines and rectum.

Crohn’s disease is one of two types of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It is the most common chronic disease in North America and Western Europe, affecting approximately 100 to 300 people per 100,000 people.

Symptoms of Crohn’s disease include:

loss of appetite
swelling of the joints
skin complications
Review of Crohn’s disease and stress
The causes of Crohn’s disease are not fully understood. Researchers believe that genetic, hereditary and environmental components may play a role in the disease. And while stress doesn’t cause Crohn’s disease, previous research shows that it can affect IBD and Crohn’s disease.

According to Dr. Brian Coombes, senior author, professor and director of biochemistry and biomedical sciences at McMaster University, many people with Crohn’s disease report experiencing episodes of psychological stress that precede inflammatory flares or increased activity. of disease.

Examples of psychological stress include relationship problems, the death of a loved one, financial problems, moving, or problems with work.

“We wanted to better understand the link between the brain and the gut that may be behind this link between stress and poor gut health outcomes,” he told Medical News Today .

“Initially, we focused on the impact of stress on the constitution of the gut microbiome, which led us to a new discovery on the negative impact of stress on the immune system of our body, thus hampering our ability to regrow bacteria associated with disease. ”

– Dr Coombes

For the study, Dr. Coombes’ team used a preclinical mouse model. The researchers used “overnight restraint” as a psychological stressor in a group of mice and deprived a matched control group of animals of food and water for 16 hours.

Mice in the physiological stress group showed an increase in Enterobacteriaceae – a large family of bacteria, including E. coli, that previous research has linked to IBD.

From there, the researchers gave the mice AIECTTrusted Source, and they again deprived them of food and water or gave them stress stress overnight. The team found that the amount of AIEC in rodents under stress stress overnight increased significantly, while that in the food deprivation group did not change.
Search for new potential treatments
Dr Coombes believes the results of this study could help develop new treatments for Crohn’s disease. For example, treatment with IL-22 could be an avenue that researchers are exploring further through clinical trials, which he said other groups are already leading.

“We also found that stress allows bacteria associated with Crohn’s disease to grow in the gut,” he added.

“Knowing this, if a narrow spectrum antibiotic could be found that selectively inhibits these disease associated bacteria, it could also be of benefit to patients.”

Dr Gerard Honig, director of research innovation for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, told MNT that this study enabled researchers to establish a new mechanical link between psychological stress, nutritional status and the growth of AIEC – a well-studied type of bacteria. contribute to inflammation in many people with Crohn’s disease.

“Although the link between AIEC and stress-induced colitis will need to be validated in patients before drawing any clinically relevant conclusions, there are many potential implications, which merit further study,” explained Dr Honig. .

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