New Research Reveals Unique Microbial Characteristics in Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease

According to a story from, a team of researchers have found that patients with inflammatory bowel disease display distinct changes to the makeup of bacteria that live in their intestines. The digestive tract provides habitat for a lot of different bacteria which are a normal part of the human body and normally do not cause harm. In fact, they play a significant role in the normal function of the digestive system.

Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease comes in two main forms: Crohn’s disease, which generally not considered rare and can affect many different areas of the digestive tract, and ulcerative colitis, which is less common and always affects the colon and large intestine. 

About The Study

The conditions that result in these diseases also alter the composition of the bacteria within the intestines, and these changes can have major impacts on how severe a patient’s disease winds up being and how useful and successful therapeutic interventions may be. The researchers found that shifts in the prevalence of certain species of bacteria in the intestine could cause disease to become more resistant to therapy. In patients with Crohn’s disease who had the affected portion of their intestine surgically removed, these changes could even cause the disease to return in another area after the procedure.

The study looked at 227 healthy patients, 270 patients with Crohn’s disease, and 232 patients with ulcerative colitis. They then compared the microbial composition, manner of disease development, and the response of the disease to treatment of these groups.

Firstly, the microbial balance in patients with inflammatory bowel disease was very different from healthy patients; diseased patients had microenvironments in which bacteria that could worsen or trigger disease symptoms dominated, and bacteria that were valuable in playing a role in normal function were less common. The researchers found a total of 18 different types of bacteria that could play a role in treatment of these diseases.

Other factors, such as lifestyle, treatment approach, and age were also significant in how they impacted the microbial community in patients with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s. Ultimately, these findings reveal the central role that bacteria play in these diseases. It is difficult to predict how well a patient will respond to treatment, and there are a small number of patients who see little benefit no matter what they try, so hopefully this research can be used to help the most severe patients find relief.

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