Fungus a major risk factor in Crohn’s disease: Study
A team of international researchers has, for the first time, identified a fungus as the key factor in the development of Crohn’s disease.
Crohn’s disease is a debilitating inflammatory bowel disease, which causes severe abdominal pain, diarrhoea, weight loss and fatigue. “We already know that bacteria, in addition to genetic and dietary factors, play a major role in causing Crohn’s disease,” said Mahmoud A Ghannoum, Professor at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, US. Both bacteria and fungi are microorganisms — that can only be seen with a microscope and inhabits the human body. Collectively, the fungal community is known as the mycobiome, while the bacteria are called the bacteriome. Essentially, patients with Crohn’s have abnormal immune responses to these bacteria, which inhabit the intestines of all people. While most studies have focussed on these bacteria, few have examined the role of fungi, which are also present in everyone’s intestines, the researchers said. The study found strong fungal-bacterial interactions — two bacteria (Escherichia coli or E.coli and Serratia marcescens or S. marcescens) and one fungus (Candida tropicalis) in people with Crohn’s disease. The three were found to work together (with the E. coli cells fusing to the fungal cells and S. marcescens forming a bridge connecting the microbes) to produce a biofilm — a thin, slimy layer of microorganisms found in the body that adheres to, among other sites, a portion of the intestines — which can prompt inflammation that results in the symptoms of Crohn’s disease.
This is first time any fungus has been linked to Crohn’s in humans. Previously it was only found in mice with the disease, the researchers noted.