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Food Components Influence Bacterial Pathology of Crohn's Disease

Gut. Published online August 26, 2010.

The translocation of Escherichia coli across M (microfold) cells and Peyer's patches in Crohn's disease is inhibited by plant fiber but increases with low concentrations of polysorbate 80, an emulsifier commonly used in processed foods, new research findings suggest.

Carol L Roberts, MRes, from the University of Liverpool, in the United Kingdom, and colleagues reported their findings online August 26 in Gut.

According to the researchers, Crohn's disease is common in industrialized nations where the diet is low in fiber and high in processed food. "Primary lesions overlie Peyer's patches and colonic lymphoid follicles where bacterial invasion through M-cells occurs," they note.

Ms. Roberts and colleagues hypothesized that dietary factors may have either harmful or protective roles in Crohn's pathogenesis and sought to assess the effect of soluble nonstarch polysaccharide and food emulsifiers on translocation of E coli across M-cells.

M-cell monolayers were generated by coculturing Caco2-cl1 and Raji B cells and human Peyer's patches. The researchers then measured the extent of E coli translocation within the M-cell monolayers by comparing isolates from patients with Crohn's disease with those of control patients without the disease.

E coli translocation across M-cells compared with parent Caco2-cl1 cells increased 15.8-fold with isolates of patients with Crohn's disease vs 6.7-fold for control isolates. In contrast, plantain and broccoli nonstarch polysaccharide markedly reduced E coli translocation across M-cells at 5 mg/mL (45.3% -82.6% inhibition; P < .01), whereas apple and leek nonstarch polysaccharide had no significant effect.

The widely used emulsifier, polysorbate 80, at a concentration of 0.01% vol/vol, increased E coli translocation through Caco2-cl1 monolayers 59-fold (P < .05) and, when given at higher concentrations, increased translocation across M-cells. Likewise, E coli translocation across human Peyer's patches was reduced 45%±7% by soluble plantain nonstarch polysaccharide (5 mg/mL) and was increased 2-fold by polysorbate 80 (0.1% vol/vol).

According to the researchers, dietary fiber may act by blocking the interaction between intestinal bacteria and the epithelium, whereas polysorbate 80 has been shown to integrate within cell membranes, resulting in a change of membrane microviscosity.

"These studies show that different dietary components may have powerful and contrasting effects on bacterial translocation across intestinal M-cells," Ms. Roberts and colleagues conclude. "These effects may be relevant to the role of environmental factors in the pathogenesis of Crohn's disease and suggest possible novel therapeutic approaches." The researchers suggest that investigational trials be conducted to "assess the effects of dietary changes in soluble plant fibre and emulsifier intake on Crohn's disease activity."

Ms. Roberts is supported by the Wellcome Trust 4-year PhD program in Cellular and Molecular Physiology. Funding support for other authors was provided by the National Institute for Health Research Specialist Biomedical Research Centre for Microbial Diseases in Liverpool and the National Association for Colitis & Crohn's disease. Other study supporters include the Swedish Research Council and the Medical Research Council.
I hope that more research can be done so that doctors will finally acknowledge what this article is scratching at. Good post!