Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a group of intestinal disorders affecting an estimated six to eight million people worldwide. Although there are many treatments for IBD, a number of patients fail to respond long-term, leaving those afflicted with a host of chronic issues, from abdominal pain and cramping to frequent, bloody stools. In a new study, published August 21, 2020 in Science Immunology, an international team of researchers, led by scientists at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, report that the lasting nature of IBD may be due to a type of long-lived immune cell that can provoke persistent, damaging inflammation in the intestinal tract. The open-access article is titled” Heterogeneity and Clonal Relationships of Adaptive Immune Cells in Ulcerative Colitis Revealed by Single-Cell Analyses.” Led by co-senior authors John T. Chang, MD, Professor of Medicine, and Gene W. Yeo, PhD, Professor of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, the research team performed mRNA and antigen receptor sequencing from immune cells isolated from samples taken from rectal biopsies or blood of IBD patients and healthy controls. "We took advantage of a state-of-the-art approach allowing us to generate mRNA and antigen receptor sequencing data from the same single-cells," said Dr. Yeo, "and analyzed thousands of individual cells, which is quite exciting." It has long been believed that immune system dysfunction, in concert with genetic susceptibility and changes in the gut microbiome, plays a significant role in IBD. However, the types of immune cells involved and their specific contributions to IBD have remained unclear.
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