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Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 2012 Jul 15;148(1-2):55-68. doi: 10.1016/j.vetimm.2012.03.005. Epub 2012 Mar 24.

Molecular pathogenesis of bovine paratuberculosis and human inflammatory bowel diseases.

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Research Team for Paratuberculosis, National Institute of Animal Health, 3-1-5 Kan-nondai, Tsukuba 305-0856, Japan.


Paratuberculosis (Ptb), caused by Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (Map), is a chronic enteritis that affects many ruminants and other wild animals worldwide. Ptb is a great concern in animal health and in etiology of human Crohn's disease (CD). In the present study, we detected Map-specific insertion sequence IS900 of DNA in tissue sections surgically removed from lesions of patients with CD (29 samples), ulcerative colitis (UC) (17 samples), and non-inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) (20 samples). We then compared the histopathological findings of 29 CD and 17 UC cases with those of 35 cases of bovine Ptb, since few comparative pathological studies of human IBD and Ptb have been conducted. The QPCR examination indicated positive results in 13.37% of CD cases, 3.57% of UC cases, and 10% of non-IBD cases. Human CD tissues typically exhibited destructive full thickness enteritis with severe lympho-plasma infiltration and scattered additional granulomas; UC lesions exhibited much less inflammation than CD lesions. Non-IBD control samples did not exhibit pathological changes. Human CD and UC lesions were very different from Ptb lesions that are characterized by predominant granuloma formation. Immunohistochemistry for Map antigen and acid-fast staining were negative in all human IBD cases but were always positive in Ptb cases. Our present comparative study strongly suggests that we reconsider the previous hypothesis that "Map infection" causes CD, even though human intestines were considered to have been exposed to the Map antigen containing the DNA.

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