Until recently, the reason behind the flare-ups that occurs in chronic inflammatory bowel diseases is little known. However, recent research has shown that certain cells present in the intestine induce acute inflammatory episodes in the illnesses. This finding would contribute to novel approaches to treat diseases in the future.
More than 4000,000 people in Germany are affected by the chronic inflammatory bowel diseases Morbus Crohn or ulcerative colitis. Patients often suffer from flare-ups, which damage intestinal tissue. In spite of tremendous advances in treating the diseases with medication, the chronic inflammation still cannot be kept sufficiently in check for a number of patients.
Chronic inflammatory diseases are caused by a complex mixture of various factors. This leads eventually to the intestine's immune system becoming over-stimulated, with the resulting inflammation often leading to serious symptoms of disease. The immune system in the intestines includes cells known as tissue resident memory cells, or TRM cells for short. So far, scientists were unaware of the part these cells had to play in causing chronic inflammation in the intestines.
'Until now, no-one realized that TRM cells have a role to play in immunological diseases,' explains Prof. Dr. Markus F. Neurath. 'We believe that our findings are also of relevance for other chronic inflammatory diseases.' In addition, the researchers hope that their discovery will form the basis for treating diseases in future. 'Future treatments may well be based on the important role TRM cells have to play in the chronic inflammation of the intestine,' predicts Dr. Sebastian Zundler, 'by taking early action, we may be able to suppress the disease or flare-ups of the condition.'