Individuals who retain a type of bacterium in their gut after a bout of food poisoning are at an increased risk of developing Crohn's disease later in life, a new study has found.
Crohn's disease is a devastating bowel disease characterised by the swelling of the intestines.
Researchers at McMaster University in Canada using a mouse model of Crohn's disease have found that acute infectious gastroenteritis caused by common food-poisoning bacteria accelerates the growth of adherent-invasive E coli (AIEC) - a bacterium that has been linked to the development of Crohn's.
Even after the mice had eliminated the food-poisoning bacteria, researchers still observed increased levels of AIEC in the gut, which led to worsened symptoms over a long period of time.
"This is a lifelong disease that often strikes people in their early years, leading to decades of suffering, an increased risk of colorectal cancer, and an increased risk of premature death," said Brian Coombes, professor at McMaster University.
The results mean that new diagnostic tools should be developed to identify AIEC-colonised individuals who may be at greater risk for Crohn's disease following an episode of acute infectious gastroenteritis, said Coombes.
"We need to understand the root origins of this disease - and to use this information to invigorate a new pipeline of treatments and preventions. It has never been more pressing," Coombes said.
The study was published in the journal PLOS Pathogens.
(With agency inputs)