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Investigating a role for Fusobacterium nucleatum in Inflammatory Bowel Disease

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Title: Investigating a role for Fusobacterium nucleatum in Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Author: Strauss, Jaclyn
Department: Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology
Program: Molecular and Cellular Biology
Advisor: Allen-Vercoe, Emma
Abstract: Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is an umbrella term used to describe a group of chronic, relapsing/remitting disorders of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT). While the precise aetiology of IBD is unknown, it is believed to be a result of the interaction of genetics, the immune system and the enteric microbiota. Thus, the search for potentially pathogenic microbial residents of the GIT is a current research focus. Fusobacterium nucleatum (Fn) is a member of the normal human microflora, including the GIT and has a well-characterized role in periodontitis in the oral setting. We have determined that Fn can be frequently recovered from human intestinal biopsies and furthermore, there is a positive correlation between recovery of Fn and the IBD status of the host. Fn strains from IBD patients were more invasive in vitro than strains from healthy controls and also demonstrated the ability to survive and proliferate inside host cells. Furthermore, while Fn strains from both IBD patients and healthy controls were able to induce expression of the pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-8 in vitro, in comparison to strains from controls, Fn strains from IBD patients resulted in decreased levels of IL-8 protein outside the host cells, suggesting that these strains may utilize sophisticated tactics to promote their survival. Thus, differences in virulence determinants among strains may be key to understanding a potential role for Fn in IBD. Characterization of virulence mechanisms utilized by Fn isolates from IBD patients could define a potentially important aspect of microbe/host interactions in this devastating disease, and indicate future therapeutic targets.
Date: 2011-09
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