A recent paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that the gut bacterium Faecalibacterium prausnitzii reduces the recurrence of ileal Crohn’s disease.
In the study, the authors determined that the percentage of total bacteria that were F. prausnitziii found in the ileal muscosa was roughly five percent in patients who did not have recurrence of symptoms six months after surgery versus roughly 0.1% in those patients who had symptoms six months later.
When F. prausnitzii was grown with cultured intestinal cells, it was found to have an anti-inflamatory effect. Giving a colitic mouse F. prausnitzii changed the mouse’s gut microbiota to a more ‘normal’, less ‘Crohn’s-like’ microbiota. (I’ve seen data from Crohn’s patients and ‘normal’ patients, and the difference between the two microbiota is striking).
While it’s not clear if the absence of F. prausnitzii causes Crohn’s, it does appear that adding it back to the gut microbiota could limit symptoms. It would also be nice to know how dietary changes could be used to support the growth of this organism.
Cited article: Sokol et al. 2008. Faecalibacterium prausnitzii is an anti-inflammatory commensal bacterium identified by gut microbiota analysis of Crohn disease patients. PNAS vol. 105: 16731-16736. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0804812105