Crohn’s disease can start within specialized intestinal cells, and over 200 genes have been identified.
Crohn’s disease can originate from specialized intestinal cells. The researchers suggest that small intestinal Crohn’s disease may be a specific type of disorder of the Paneth cells, which are specialized cells in small intestine. The study was led by researchers at the University of Cambridge and Harvard University, and this finding can lead to new specialized treatment for the disease.
One of the lead authors Professor Arthur Kaser said, “If we are able to break down Crohn’s disease into subsets by understanding the underlying mechanisms, which we have done here, we hope to develop much more targeted, effective treatments. The discovery of the Paneth cells’ role in inflammation of the bowel also raises the possibility of entirely novel therapeutic approaches.”
Autophagy, which is the process of breaking down and recycling the unnecessary or dysfunctional cellular components, has already been linked to Crohn’s disease previously. Some believed that the defects in autophagy could inhibit the ability to eliminate harmful bacteria in the cells. With this new study, the researchers were able to identify the mechanism through which the defective autophagy can lead to Crohn’s disease. The findings suggest that autophagy plays a role in controlling the inflammatory function of the unfolded protein response, which is activated when the endoplasmic reticulum (a cell part responsible for protein transport) is under stress.
Endoplasmic reticulum is common in Crohn’s disease, and the researchers speculate that autophagy may remove endoplasmic reticulum membranes as a consequence of genetic and environmental factors.
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