Inflammatory bowel disease: clinics and pathology. Do inflammatory bowel disease and periodontal disease have similar immunopathogeneses?
AbstractInflammatory bowel disease (IBD) comprises two chronic, tissue-destructive, clinical entities—Crohn disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC)—both apparently caused by immunological overreaction (hypersensitivity) to commensal gut bacteria. Under normal conditions the intestinal immune system shows a down-regulating tone (‘oral tolerance’) against dietary antigens and the indigenous microbiota. This local homeostasis is disturbed in IBD, leading to hyperactivation of T helper 1 (Th1) cells with abundant secretion of interferon-γ and tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and production of IgG antibodies against commensal bacteria. In addition, UC includes genetically determined autoimmunity, particularly IgG1-mediated cytotoxic epithelial attack. Breaching of the epithelium is the best-defined event underlying abrogation of oral tolerance, but immune deviation caused by cytokines from irritated epithelial cells or subepithelial elements (for example, mast cells, natural killer cells, macrophages) may also be involved. Endogenous infection with local hypersensitivity likewise causes periodontal disease, reflecting ‘frustrated’ immune elimination mechanisms entertained by antigens from dental plaque. Altogether, perturbation of a tightly controlled cytokine network, with abnormal crosstalk between several cell types, apparently explains the progressive immunopathology of chronic inflammatory mucosal diseases in general. This adverse development will be influenced by numerous immunity genes, the dosage and potential pathogenicity of commensal bacteria, general health, nutritional status, and psychological factors. Several targets for new therapy have tentatively been identified to block immunopathological mechanisms in IBD, and inhibition of TNF has a striking beneficial effect in CD, supporting a central role of this cytokine.