When it works, genetic-microbe communication link helps calm inflammation
Mark Ladinsky and Greg Donaldson/Caltech
Good gut bacteria might not help people with Crohn’s disease.
Protective microbial messages go unread in mice and in human immune cells with certain defective genes, researchers report online May 5 in Science.
The findings are the first to tie together the roles of genes and beneficial microbes in the inflammatory bowel disease, says biologist Brett Finlay of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, who was not involved in the new work.
“This is a major step forward in this area,” he says. Human genes and friendly microbes work together to control inflammation, he says. “And when you muck that up, things can go awry.”
In Crohn’s disease, the immune system riles up too easily, trigging chronic inflammation. Scientists don’t know why exactly people’s immune systems go haywire. But researchers have linked the disease to