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Gastroenterology. 1988 Jun;94(6):1404-11.

Serum antibodies to mycobacterial antigens in active Crohn's disease.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Veterans Administration Medical Center, Denver, Colorado.


Infection with a species of Mycobacterium has been implicated in the pathogenesis of Crohn's disease. Therefore, we attempted to determine whether a specific serum antibody response to mycobacteria occurs in patients with the disease. We tested sera of patients with active Crohn's disease and several control groups in an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for reactivity with two mycobacterial antigens: (a) lipoarabinomannan, a highly immunogenic somatic lipopolysaccharide present in the cell walls of all species of the Mycobacterium genus, and (b) a protoplasmic antigenic preparation from M. sp strain linda, the mycobacterium that has been specifically implicated in Crohn's disease. We found no significant elevation in immunoglobulin A, immunoglobulin G, or immunoglobulin M antibody levels to these two antigen preparations in the Crohn's disease patients. Moreover, no subset of patients (sex, age, Crohn's disease activity index, location of disease, duration of disease, operations, or response to treatment) had elevated antibody levels. As virtually all known chronic infectious diseases have an associated serologic response to the etiologic agent, our findings greatly diminish the likelihood that Crohn's disease is caused by an infection with a mycobacterium.

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