Pathogen possibly linked to Crohn’s disease.




Journal of Clinical Microbiology

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Crohn's disease is serious chronic illness that inflicts severe damage to the intestinal tract, causing diarrhea and abdominal pain. Though it can strike anywhere along the GI tract from the mouth to the anus, Crohn's disease usually affects the endmost portion of the small intestine, called the "ileum."

Crohn's disease is an inflammatory condition; the delicate mucous membrane lining the intestinal wall becomes inflamed and ulcerated in spots called "skip lesions." The intestinal lining looks somewhat like an old cobblestone street, with lesions spaced between normal tissue. The inflammation can penetrate the bowel wall, leading to the development of abscesses and deep cracks. Even worse, these cracks may lengthen, forming complete openings from the inside of the intestine to the outside called "fistulas." The intestinal wall eventually becomes hardened and inflexible. In later stages of the disease, the intestine may become obstructed.

A recent study linked the presence of a pathogen called Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP) in Crohn’s sufferers. MAP is present in pasteurized milk as well as some water supplies and is known to cause intestinal inflammation in many species. Researchers tested for this bacteria in 37 Crohn’s disease cases and in 34 control cases. After testing, 34 out of the 37 Crohn’s patients had positive results for MAP, while only 9 out of the 34 controls tested positive. The researchers concluded that MAP in those with Crohn’s disease is highly significant and that this may be an important finding in the cause of this disease.1


1. Bull TJ, et al. Detection and Verification of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis in Fresh Ileocolonic Mucosal Biopsy Specimens from Individuals with and without Crohn's Disease. Journal of Clinical Microbiology, July 2003, p. 2915-2923, Vol. 41, No. 7.