The cause of chronic inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease) is unknown. However, exposure of the bowel immune system to infections is believed to play a role in the development of these chronic diseases that are very common among young people.
Some people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) may experience various extra-intestinal symptoms along with their gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms. These can include skin irritation (erythema nodosum), eye problems (episcleritis), and joint pains (arthritis). Some people with IBD also develop mouth sores (oral aphthous ulcers).
Behçet’s syndrome, an inflammatory disease affecting many organs, including the eyes, genitals, skin, joints, blood vessels, brain, and gastrointestinal, can cause recurring, painful mouth sores. Although the gastrointestinal and systemic features of Behcet’s syndrome and IBD overlap to a considerable extent, they are generally viewed as two distinct diseases.
Some studies have suggested that acute gastrointestinal infections with e.g. Salmonella and Campylobacter may initiate the disease process. But these studies have not taken into consideration the fact that patients generally have a lot faecal samples taken during the process of being diagnosed with IBD. Salmonella and Campylobacter infections do not cause chronic IBD. But, the presence of unfriendly bacteria such as Klebsiella pneumoniae and Proteus mirabilis in the digestive tract can be a risk factor for IBD
Much attention has also been focused on the role of measles virus infection and/or vaccination in the pathogenesis of ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease (CD). However, a published report on MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccination and IBD and pervasive developmental disorders (such as autism) has never been replicated by other studies and has subsequently been retracted by the journal.
There has also been a resurgent interest in potential viral etiologies of IBD, including norovirus (norwalk-like virus) and rotavirus (small bowel) as well as cytomegalovirus (CMV) and herpes simplex virus (HSV) in immune compromised people. CMV colitis is common in patients with IBD (UC and CD) who are on long-term immunosuppressive therapy.
Intestinal epithelial cells play a critical role in mediating the protective responses and there is increasing appreciation of the likely importance of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) of the defensin family that they express. Defensins are produced at a variety of epithelial surfaces. They are divided into three major groups, α, β and θ-defensins, of which only α and β-defensins have been identified in the intestinal tract.
In the intestinal tract, they contribute to host immunity and assist in maintaining the balance between protection from pathogens and tolerance to normal flora (defensins modulate immune responses). Although it is clear that defensin expression is altered in IBD. However, defensin deficiency is due to mucosal surface destruction as a result of inflammatory changes, indicating that reduced defensin expression is a symptom of the disease and not the cause.
Autophagy (macroautophagy; “self-eating”) has long been recognized as a stress response to nutrient deprivation. In fact, autophagy is a process by which cells degrade long-lived or insoluble proteins and microorganisms, and it may also regulate inflammation. Thus, autophagy plays critical roles in regulating a wide variety of pathophysiological processes, including tumorigenesis, embryo development, tissue remodeling, and most recently, immunity. The latter shows that a self-eating (autophagy) process could regulate a self-defense (immune) system.
The intestinal mucosa is a site of careful immune regulation where the epithelium and immune cells encounter pathogens as well as a robust and diverse population of indigenous microbes that are predominately bacteria. Autophagy has been shown to modulate the production of pro-inflammatory cytokine production and to contribute to antigen processing and presentation through the major histocompatibility complex.
Recent research suggests several genetic variants linked to IBD, especially CD, are associated with autophagy, a process that is critical for proper responses to viral and bacterial infections. Autophagy plays a critical role in defense against intracellular infection. In turn, evasion or inhibition of autophagy has emerged as an important virulence factor for intracellular pathogens. One of the key proteins involved in the execution of the autophagic process is the modulator, ATG16L1, which is responsible for the membrane localisation of the autophagic machinery and formation of the autophagosome.
The intracellular bacterial sensors, NOD (nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain) 1 and 2, are also important for the autophagic response to invasive bacteria. Colocalisation of NOD1 or NOD2 with ATG16L1 at the cell membrane is a crucial step in the initiation of the autophagic process probably independent of the activation NF-κB (a prototypical proinflammatory signaling pathway).
Defects in this pathway, particularly in individuals that are bearing IBD risk alleles for either NOD2 or ATG16L1, may lead to failed bacterial killing due to impaired lysosomal degradation, inefficient immune-mediated bacterial clearance and consequently to mucosal inflammation. Therefore, it is possible that certain aspects of the autophagy pathway are evolutionarily plastic and critical for a balanced immune response in the face of infectious threats that change over time.
Autophagy-related proteins are involved in the innate immune response and may contribute to the development of inflammatory disorders. Proper regulation of innate immune responses by autophagy-related proteins is important for the regulation of innate immunity. Indeed, the mutations that disrupt autophagy may be the possible trigger for IBD under some infectious conditions.
Therefoer, it would be unwise either by adding prednisone (corticosteroid) or increasing the azathioprine (an immunosuppressive drug) in the setting of possible infection. Prednisone can also weaken your immune system. Optimal therapy is orally administered GinolZym and should be initiated promptly for severely ill patients. GinolZym can modulate the autophagic response in the intestinal tract.