C. tropicalis Fungi Linked to Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease causes inflammation throughout the digestive tract. But what factors influence the severity of this inflammation? Medical XPress describes how a study out of Case Western Reserve University discovered that a fungal infection, caused by Candida tropicalis (C. tropicalis), could worsen inflammatory symptoms.

If you’re interested in reading the full study findings, you can find them published in Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology

C. Tropicalis

According to Leading International Fungal Education (LIFE), an initiative from the Fungal Infection Trust, C. tropicalis:

Represented 4% of yeasts obtained from seawater, sea sediments, mud flats, marine fish intestine, mangrove plants, and marine algae, as well as shrimp, indicating its wide distribution in tropical and subtropical marine environments. It can also be cultured from various fruits, feces (suggesting it is either a colonizer of the human gut, or found in foods) and soil.

C. tropicalis is a virulent Candida species. It may cause candidemia, a bloodstream infection, or tissue invasive candidiasis. 

Within this particular study, researchers sought to understand the impact of C. tropicalis on the gut microbiome. In particular, the study explored how C. tropicalis could influence chronic intestinal inflammation. To begin, researchers infected animal models with C. tropicalis and used chemicals to prompt colitis. Next, researchers evaluated how the fungal infection influenced intestinal inflammation. 

Ultimately, researchers discovered that C. tropicalis infection altered the gut microbiome, caused an imbalance of gut bacteria, and worsened inflammation. As prior studies highlighted how C. tropicalis is found at higher rates in those with Crohn’s disease, this may be something to explore further in future research. 

Crohn’s Disease

Ultimately, Crohn’s disease exists under the umbrella category of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). This condition causes chronic digestive tract inflammation, which most commonly affects the colon and ileum. Because Crohn’s disease causes deep inflammation, it can be extremely painful and have debilitating effects. 

The overall cause of Crohn’s disease is unknown, though genetic and environmental factors are believed to play a role. Smoking cigarettes, being of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage, or living in an urban environment may all contribute to Crohn’s disease flares. Symptoms typically manifest before age 30 and include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea and/or bloody stool
  • Abdominal pain and cramping 
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Appetite loss
  • Anal pain or drainage
  • Mouth sores
  • Anal fissures
  • Malnutrition
Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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