The inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), including Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative col-itis (UC), are chronic inflammatory disorders of the intestine.The prevalence in the United States is greater than 200 cases per 100,000, with the total number of IBD patients between 1 and 1.5 million. CD may affect all parts of the gastrointestinal tract, from mouth to anus, but most commonly involves the distal part of the small intestine or ileum, and colon. UC results in colonic inflammation that can affect the rectum only, or can progress proximally to involve part of or the entire colon. Clinical symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain, gastrointestinal bleeding, and weight loss. A serious long-term complication of chronic inflammation is the development of colorectal cancer. A genetic basis for IBD had long been recognized based on the increased familial risk. However, significant discordance for CD in twins, and a much less robust phenotypic concordance for UC, suggested additional factors play a role in disease pathogenesis, including envi-ronmental factors. In the past several years, progress in understanding the molecular basis of IBD has accelerated, beginning with the generation of animal models of colitis and progressing to the identification of specific genetic markers from candidate gene, gene linkage, and genome-wide association analyses. Genetic studies have also resulted in the recognition of the importance of environmental factors, particularly the crucial role of the gut microbiota in CD and UC. Altered immune responses to the normal intesti-nal flora are key factors in IBD pathogenesis. In this research topic, the genetic basis of IBD, the genetic and cellular alterations associated with colitis-associated colon cancer, and the emerging role of the intestinal microbiota and other environmental factors will be reviewed.
- Chronic intestinal inflammation
- Colitis-associated colon cancer
- Crohn's disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Ulcerative colitis