Date Published: September 20, 2018
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Author(s): Serre-Yu Wong, Ken Cadwell, Matthew J. Evans.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) refers to a group of chronic inflammatory diseases that affect the gastrointestinal tract and includes ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease (CD). UC is restricted to the mucosa of the colon, whereas the lesions in CD are often discontinuous, occur across the entire wall of the organ (transmural), and involve any part of the gastrointestinal tract from mouth to anus. Infectious etiologies have been investigated since CD was first described in 1932. In their seminal paper, Oppenheimer, Ginzberg, and Crohn describe in detail the culture conditions they used to demonstrate that CD is neither intestinal tuberculosis nor a disease caused by bacterial pathogens . Over the years, the search for infectious causes of IBD has continued and even dabbled in controversy. In 1993, before his foray into the antivaccine movement with studies claiming an association between the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism, the gastroenterologist Andrew Wakefield published that measles virus particles could be found in tissue specimens from CD patients . The results were never reproduced . On the other hand, early life antibiotic usage has been associated with IBD, and somewhat paradoxically, antibiotics are sometimes used as adjunctive treatment in IBD, implicating bacteria in the disease . It has now been over 80 years since CD was described, and the role of microbes in IBD remains unclear.