Author(s): Scanu AM, Bull TJ, Cannas S, Sanderson JD, Sechi LA,
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Abstract Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis causes Johne's disease, a systemic infection and chronic inflammation of the intestine that affects many species, including primates. Infection is widespread in livestock, and human populations are exposed. Johne's disease is associated with immune dysregulation, with involvement of the enteric nervous system overlapping with features of irritable bowel syndrome in humans. The present study was designed to look for an association between Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis infection and irritable bowel syndrome. Mucosal biopsy specimens from the ileum and the ascending and descending colon were obtained from patients with irritable bowel syndrome attending the University of Sassari, Sassari, Sardinia, Italy. Crohn's disease and healthy control groups were also included. Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis was detected by IS900 PCR with amplicon sequencing. Data on the potential risk factors for human exposure to these pathogens and on isolates from Sardinian dairy sheep were also obtained. Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis was detected in 15 of 20 (75\%) patients with irritable bowel syndrome, 3 of 20 (15\%) healthy controls, and 20 of 23 (87\%) people with Crohn's disease (P = 0.0003 for irritable bowel syndrome patients versus healthy controls and P = 0.0000 for Crohn's disease patients versus healthy controls). One subject in each group had a conserved single-nucleotide polymorphism at position 247 of IS900 that was also found in isolates from seven of eight dairy sheep. There was a significant association (P = 0.0018) between Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis infection and the consumption of hand-made cheese. Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis is a candidate pathogen in the causation of a proportion of cases of irritable bowel syndrome as well as in Crohn's disease.
This article was published in J Clin Microbiol
and referenced in Biology and Medicine