Research Article

Adhesive Escherichia coli in inflammatory bowel disease and infective diarrhoea.

BMJ 1988; 297 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.297.6641.102 (Published 09 July 1988) Cite this as: BMJ 1988;297:102
  1. D. A. Burke,
  2. A. T. Axon
  1. Gastroenterology Unit, General Infirmary, Leeds.

    Abstract

    The clinical features of ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease are similar to those of infections of the bowel, although their cause is uncertain. Many bacteria that cause intestinal diseases adhere to the gut mucosa, and adhesion of pathogenic Escherichia coli is resistant to D-mannose. The adhesive properties of isolates of E coli were assessed by assay of adhesion to buccal epithelial cells with mannose added. The isolates were obtained from patients with inflammatory bowel diseases (50 with a relapse of ulcerative colitis, nine with ulcerative colitis in remission, 13 with Crohn's disease, and 11 with infectious diarrhoea not due to E coli) and 22 controls. The median index of adhesion to buccal epithelial cells (the proportion of cells with more than 50 adherent bacteria) for E coli from patients with ulcerative colitis in relapse was significantly higher (43%) than that for controls (5%) and patients with infectious diarrhoea (14%). The index was not significantly different among isolates from patients with ulcerative colitis in relapse, Crohn's disease (53%), and ulcerative colitis in remission (30%). If an index of adhesion of greater than 25% is taken as indicating an adhesive strain 86% of isolates of E coli from patients with inflammatory bowel disease were adhesive compared with 27% from patients with infective diarrhoea and none from controls. The adhesive properties of the isolates from patients with inflammatory bowel disease were similar to those of pathogenic intestinal E coli, raising the possibility that they may have a role in the pathogenesis of the condition; the smaller proportion of adhesive isolates in patients with infective diarrhoea due to other bacteria suggests that the organism may be of primary importance rather than arising secondarily.