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Acne bacteria can lead to chronic gastritis
High alcohol consumption, smoking, stress and infections with certain viruses or bacteria: all of these factors are known triggers for inflammation of the stomach. Austrian researchers have now discovered another cause of chronic gastritis: the acne bacterium.
Different causes of gastrointestinal inflammation
Chronic gastritis is a long-term inflammation of the gastric mucosa, which can have several causes. Among other things, infections with bacteria, viruses or mold, smoking, high alcohol or coffee consumption, stress and various medications, such as pain relievers such as diclofenac, are possible. Scientists at the Medical University of Graz have now found the cause of a previously unexplained form of the disease.
More than half of those over 50 are affected
Experts believe that in western industrialized countries, more than half of all people over the age of 50 suffer from chronic gastritis, whereby the symptoms of the inflammation often develop slowly or very unspecific complaints occur.
These include feelings of fullness, nausea, feeling of pressure, pain in the upper abdomen, flatulence or diarrhea.
Because of its acid production, the stomach has long been considered a quasi-sterile organ. "Only the discovery of Helicobacter pylori as a causative agent of chronic gastritis changed this view step by step," explained Univ.-Prof. Dr. Gregor Gorkiewicz, Professor of Medical Microbiome Research at the Institute for Pathology at the Med Uni Graz in a message.
The methods of modern microbiome research provide detailed insights into the microbial ecosystem of the stomach and its contribution to the development of chronic gastritis.
Unexplained form of stomach inflammation
Ana Montalban-Arques has now succeeded in deciphering a previously unexplained form of chronic stomach inflammation - lymphocytic gastritis - as part of her dissertation in Gregor Gorkiewicz's research group.
The researcher explained: “Lymphocytic gastritis is a chronic inflammation of the stomach. So far, the cause of this disease has not been clarified. "
The research group has succeeded in identifying Propionibacterium acnes - a classic skin bacterium and cause of acne vulgaris - as the cause of the disease, as well as the underlying immunological mechanism of lymphocytic gastritis.
The results of the scientists were published in the "Journal of Pathology".
Attack of the body's defense cells
The Propionibacterium acnes, which can also be found in the digestive tract, produces short-chain fatty acids, such as propionic acid. As a result, the bacterium also causes a specific activation of the NKG2D system, an innate immune mechanism that is also involved in gluten intolerance, for example.
"Subsequently, this activation of the NKG2D system leads to the recruitment of cytotoxic T cells, which then attack the tissue of the stomach," summarized Gregor Gorkiewicz.
This attack by the body's own defense cells on the tissue of the stomach causes the chronic inflammation of the gastric mucosa.
Main trigger of stomach cancer
In addition, the researchers were able to show that Helicobacter pylori can specifically modulate the NKG2D system and thus bypasses immune stimulation, i.e. there is no activation of T cells.
"The NKG2D system is an important immune system in the body that counteracts the development of tumors," said Gorkiewicz.
Helicobacter pylori is considered the main cause of gastric cancer. The scientists therefore suspect that the bypassing of the NKG2D system caused by the bacterium promotes the development of gastric cancer. The research group is already working on clarifying this mechanism and the contribution of the gastric microbiome to gastric cancer. (ad)