| research/study

Recognizing the Signature of Severe Crohn's Disease

Epigenetics May Improve Diagnosis and Treatment of Crohn's and Other Bowel Diseases

Researchers at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center report that they have identified an epigenetic signature that may predict which patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are at greater risk for severe inflammation. This capability could be used to better inform the selection of treatments for the diseases, most notably Crohn’s. Principal investigator Theresa Alenghat, VMD, PhD, a researcher in the Division of Immunology, commented, “This study suggests that the microbiome triggers epigenetic change that could make some individuals more prone to intestinal inflammation. Each person’s microbiome is driven by genetics as well as external environmental factors, such as food, where we live, pets, mom’s microbiome, etc.” The results were published in the journal JCI Insights.

The study examined intestinal epithelial cells from both mouse models and recently diagnosed IBD patients. Histone methylation, a process by which epigenetic programs can turn genes on or off, was found to be altered in the nucleus of cells from the IBD patients. These changes affect genes involved in immune regulation, including those associated with the degree of inflammation in IBD. The team then experimented with mouse models to isolate the changes that could be impacted by microbiota. With additional work, the authors assert, it should be possible to discern the different biological processes that drive this epigenetic signature, improving both diagnostic accuracy and treatment outcomes.

Read about the study findings.

The journal article may be read here.

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