, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 454-460

Investigations on etiology of Crohn's disease

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Many investigators have tried to prove a relationship between Crohn's disease andMycobacteria. Recent evidence suggests that some autoimmune diseases may be initiated through “molecular mimicry” between mycobacterial stress protein antigens and their human homologs. We investigated whether antibody to stress proteins was more frequent in patients with Crohn's disease than controls. We used ATP binding to separate stress proteins (heat-shock-induced,de novo-synthesized, and constitutively expressed ATP-binding proteins) from crude extracts obtained fromMycobacteria and from an SV40-transformed human epithelial cell line that expresses a heat-shock protein, hsp73, as a complex with SV40 T antigen. We used immunoblots to compare sera from 34 patients with Crohn's disease, 14 with ulcerative colitis, and 14 with duodenal or gastric ulcers (noninflammatory bowel disease control patients). We found no statistically significant pattern or frequency of antibodies against single proteins or a combination of mycobacterial or human stress proteins. These observations do not support the hypothesis that a humoral immune response to stress proteins ofMycobacteria is important in the pathogenesis of Crohn's disease.