Thursday, March 17, 2011

a role for pattern-recognition receptors in gut flora dysbiosis in Crohn's

It's not been a spectacular last few days, and I've not been feeling particularly well.  The stress of my rotting teeth/jaw, decaying scalp, deteriorating wallet, work transitioning and the realization that in three months I will be leaving all the people I love is, indeed, catching up with me.

So I decided to make all efforts to allow today to be as awesome as possible... excluding exercising.  I'm at work at 6am, which is early for me these days, in order to finish a project before 1pm... so that I can make it to my fourth dental appointment in the last three weeks... so that I can receive some more bad news... so that I can be sucked down into the gutter and then be plucked out again by a dinner with two of my favorite human beings tonight.

I've been reading a lot of literature on the imbalance of helpful and harmful gut flora lately, a condition called dysbiosis.  There have been several microbiota implicated in Crohn's disease (klebsiella, E. coli, paratuberculosis, Campylobacter jejuni, enterohepatic Helicobacter species).  However, a recent review in Nature suggests that no single bacterium has been definitively associated with Crohn's.  Instead, Si Ming Man and colleagues argue that defective sensing, killing off and generally balancing of gut microbiota is largely due to defective pattern-recognition receptors.

Pattern-recognition receptors are just what they sound like. They allow the host [read: intestine] to identify molecular fluctuations in gut microbiota that might indicate harm, and activate an immune response.  These pattern-recognition receptors (mostly toll-like receptors) in membranes of the epithelial cells that line the gut activate nuclear factor kB (NFkB), which leads to productions of interleukins and the infamous TNFalpha.
Man SM, Kaakoush NO, & Mitchell HM (2011). The role of bacteria and pattern-recognition receptors in Crohn's disease. Nature reviews. Gastroenterology & hepatology, 8 (3), 152-68 PMID: 21304476

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