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Minerva Gastroenterol Dietol. 2005 Jun;51(2):127-45.

Etiology and pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine II, Saarland University, Homburg, Germany.


Despite of scientific efforts during the last decades, etiology and pathogenesis of the two major inflammatory bowel diseases, namely Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, remain rather unclear. According to the results of multiple studies it is accepted that the development of either disease is the result of an exaggerated or insufficiently suppressed immune response to a hitherto undefined luminal antigen, probably derived from the microbial flora. This inflammatory process leads to the well-known mucosal damage and therefore a further disturbance of the epithelial barrier function, resulting in an increased influx of bacteria into the intestinal wall, even further accelerating the inflammatory process. However, these immunological disturbances that have been investigated extensively during the past years have to be considered on the genetic background of the individual patient and the environmental factors the patient is exposed to. In this review we will attempt to summarize the current knowledge about risk factors for inflammatory bowel diseases, genetic and environmental factors of IBD and focus on the immunological alterations of innate and acquired immune system underlying Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

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