Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a group of chronic conditions that damage the intestinal lining tissue’s mucosa. Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are the most common of these diseases; and it has been observed in several studies that patients who have them are very likely to develop colon cancer.
Currently, the best method to detect IBD is biopsy, a surgical procedure in which a piece of damaged tissue is removed and analyzed by a pathologist. However, such a procedure is expensive, so it is not within the reach of most people in Mexico.
With this idea in mind, a group of scientists from the Center for Research and Advanced Studies (Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados, CINVESTAV) work to understand the biological processes that lead to the development of IBD by studying the mechanisms that regulate the regeneration of epithelial cells in ulcerated areas of the intestine.
Dr. Porfirio Nava Dominguez, who leads the study, explained that the epithelium found in the human intestine functions as a physical barrier that prevents bacteria, parasites and harmful compounds from penetrating into the body, and also allows the absorption of nutrients from the intestines.
Given the functions of this ‘wall’, the epithelial cells that make it up suffer damage and have to be repaired constantly; for which, some proteins are required to fulfill the function of maintaining and regenerating this ‘wall’.
“Akt is one of these and its function is to stimulate the activity of others. For example, on contacting a transcription cofactor called β-catenin, a change in that molecule will be produce and new cells will begin to be generated. This process is known as cell proliferation. In contrast, by indirectly activating a protein complex called mTORC1, reproduction will decrease,” Nava Dominguez said.
He also stressed that normally the cells divide once, and then begin a growth process that allows them acquiring the necessary characteristics to function properly, and finally the cycle repeats. However, in pathological processes, whether inflammatory or carcinogenic, this mechanism is hyper-stimulated in a single direction; in other words, the cells divide too much rapidly or cease to do it completely. For example, during inflammation, the mTORC1 protein complex prevents the generation of new cells and therefore ulcers are formed.
On the other hand, Dr. Nava expressed that there are several theories to explain why only certain individuals are prone to develop IBD, which include the individual’s diet. “It has been postulated that those who ingest ‘clean food’, almost sterile, are more likely to develop (IBD), because the immune system is forced to attack the epithelial cells of the intestinal mucosa and ends up destroying the tissue. So it is appropriate to consume foods with beneficial bacteria to the body, such as probiotics.”
Finally, the pharmacologist also expressed his enthusiasm because this 13-year research obtained the ‘Rubén Lisker’ Biomedicine Research Price from CONACYT, Mexican Coca-Cola and the Institute of Drinks for Health and Welfare in order to support the scientific work that contributes to the health of Mexicans.
Source: Agencia ID