Common yeast may worsen IBD symptoms in Crohn’s disease

During the past decade, the gut has experienced a renaissance as investigations focus on the role of the microbiome on human health. While most studies have focused on bacteria, the dominant microbial inhabitants in the gut, scientists at University of Utah Health Sciences used mouse studies to show the role of yeast in aggravating the symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Their work suggests that allopurinol, a generic drug already on the market, could offer some relief. The results of the study will be published online in March 8 issue of Science Translational Medicine.

IBD is an autoimmune disease characterized by chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract that produces severe diarrhea, pain, fatigue and weight loss. For several decades, doctors have used the presence of yeast antibodies, specifically antibodies to the cell wall of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, to differentiate between Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, two variations of IBD. But it was unclear the role that yeast played in relation to IBD.

“To me this was a huge hole in our understanding of the role of yeast in IBD and our health,” begins June Round, Ph.D. associate professor in pathology at the University of Utah School of Medicine.

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