Researchers Identify Bacteria Responsible for Key Crohn’s Complication | Health News

By Robert Preidt, HealthDay Reporter


TUESDAY, Oct. 6, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Leaking bacteria from the intestine triggers “creeping fat” that often occurs in people with Crohn’s disease, according to a new study.

Creeping fat is abdominal fat that wraps around the intestines of patients with this type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It was unknown what triggered the fat to do this.

“Creeping fat is often a landmark for surgeons performing resections on an IBD patient’s bowels because they know when they see it, that’s likely where the lesions are located,” said study author Suzanne Devkota, an assistant professor of gastroenterology at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles.

“But we don’t know whether the presence of the fat is making the disease worse or trying to protect the intestines from something,” she added in a hospital news release.

Devkota’s team analyzed small intestine and fat tissue samples from 11 Crohn’s patients who had gone through surgery. Along with storing energy, fat (adipose tissue) contains immune cells that appear to be triggered in certain cases of IBD.

“We found that the adipose tissue is actually responding to bacteria that have migrated out of the patient’s damaged intestines and directly into the fat,” Devkota said. “We believe the ‘creeping’ migration of the fat around the intestines is intended to try and plug leaks in the diseased organ to prevent the gut bacteria from getting into the bloodstream.”

But creeping fat may contribute to severe intestinal scarring (fibrosis) that occurs in 40% of Crohn’s patients, according to the researchers. In many of these cases, surgical removal of parts of the small intestine is the only option.

Patients with ulcerative colitis, the other most common IBD, don’t develop creeping fat, the authors said. Their study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Researchers also pinpointed a specific type of bacteria (Clostridium innocuum) that prompts fat to travel to the small intestine and encase it, imperiling its function. The finding could lead to new treatments.

“We’ve identified a specific infectious agent that can trigger a process that makes Crohn’s worse. This is a critical step toward the development of therapies that target C. innocuum, allowing us to prevent or minimize the damaging effect of creeping fat,” said Dr. Stephan Targan, director of Cedar-Sinai’s Inflammatory Bowel and Immunobiology Research Institute.

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more on Crohn’s disease.

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Trump’s other coronavirus complication: His credibility gap

A Kaiser Family Foundation poll released last month found that just 40 percent of Americans trust Trump to provide “reliable information on coronavirus,” and only 36 percent of respondents this summer deemed the president “honest and trustworthy” — which was actually an improvement from last year’s mark of 34 percent, according to Gallup’s long-running poll.

“My initial instinct was he’s lying about this diagnosis,” said Rebekah Nagler, a University of Minnesota professor who has a forthcoming paper that addresses Trump’s conflicting claims on coronavirus. “And I don’t think I’m the only person who felt that way,” Nagler said, hastening to add she no longer doubted he had actually come down with the disease.

Since revealing his diagnosis early on Friday, Trump has tweeted just twice — first, a short video to indicate he’s healthy, and then an upbeat “Going well, I think!” late Friday night. The information flow around his actual symptoms and condition has been patchy at best, and possibly misleading: After officials like economic adviser Larry Kudlow and chief of staff Mark Meadows had assured reporters that his symptoms were “mild” or “very moderate” earlier in the day, the White House announced in a press release that the president had received an experimental antibody injection. Then came the news that the president was being admitted for what a spokesperson billed as a “several day” stay at Walter Reed Medical Center, and a late-night memo that doctors were beginning to treat Trump with Remdesivir, a drug that can improve recovery time from Covid-19.

In his short political career, many of Trump’s most notable obfuscations have centered around his own health, including varying claims about his height, an unusual trip to Walter Reed last year and a glowing 2015 letter by his personal physician, claiming Trump would be the “healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.” That physician, Harold Bornstein, in 2018 told NBC that Trump had dictated the letter and later sent his personal bodyguard to remove his medical records from Bornstein’s office.

Now Trump must convince Americans that he’s healthy enough to lead the nation from a hospital ward. And he faces a severe test that can’t be papered over by false claims—and can’t necessarily be anticipated by experts.

Doctors warn that Covid-19’s effects are unpredictable and patients can suddenly worsen. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson went from reporting “mild” coronavirus symptoms in late March to needing oxygen in the hospital within two weeks, telling reporters later that his survival had been essentially a 50-50 proposition. Trump’s own age and weight — 74 years old, with a body-mass index that’s technically obese — also elevate his personal risks for coronavirus complications.

“The president’s a public citizen — he can decide how much or how little he wants to reveal as he wants,” said Jeremy Faust, an emergency medicine physician at Brigham and Women’s hospital and Harvard Medical School instructor who writes about health communication.

“But Americans do have some right to know,” Faust added. “The very