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Potential new treatment target for Crohn’s disease


Today's CD treatments, such as steroids and monoclonal antibodies, may work for a while, but often cease to be effective.

Fabio Cominelli, MD, professor of medicine at the School of Medicine and chief of gastroenterology at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, led a three-year study, published recently in Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology, focusing on the chronic inflammation that occurs in genetically susceptible individuals with CD.

Using mouse models of CD, Cominelli and his team investigated the interaction between a class of proteins called tumor necrosis factor and receptors on the surface, called Fn14. Their goal was to see how the tumor necrosis factor (or TWEAK, for Tumor Necrosis Factor-like Weak Inducer of Apoptosis) and its cell receptor, Fn14, may play a dual role of both protecting the intestine from acute and chronic inflammation characteristic in CD, and how it might also trigger it.

Scientists have been studying the TWEAK/Fn14 interaction for at least two decades to understand its role in inflammation. Cominelli and his team, however, are the first to describe this signalling complex in CD.

“During early inflammation, TWEAK/Fn14 activates to heal tissue damage,” said Cominelli. “However, during later, chronic inflammation, increased and persistent levels of Fn14 may lead to pathologic inflammation and fibrosis.”

Today’s CD treatments, such as steroids and monoclonal antibodies, may work for a while, but often cease to be effective. They also may cause hypertension, infection and the risk of birth defects in pregnant women being treated for IBD. As CD patients endure a roller-coaster ride of flare-ups, repeated hospital stays, surgeries and treatments relieved by intervals of remission, the disease becomes dramatically life-changing and emotionally stressful.

To better understand the link between TWEAK/Fn14 and chronic inflammation, the team of researchers used mice bred to develop CD-like disease, and then genetically deleted the cell-surface receptor Fn14. The mice with genetically deleted Fn14 had less severe inflammation. Those with the Fn14 receptor had chronic intestinal inflammation and scarring.

Read full article at https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/08/190808115108.htm

Posted on: August 9 2019

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