Langenbeck's Archives of Surgery

, Volume 389, Issue 5, pp 341–349

Current concept of pathophysiological understanding and natural course of ulcerative colitis

Current Concepts in Clinical Surgery

DOI: 10.1007/s00423-003-0448-5

Cite this article as:
Holtmann, M.H. & Galle, P.R. Langenbecks Arch Surg (2004) 389: 341. doi:10.1007/s00423-003-0448-5



According to the current paradigm both ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease (CD) result from a complex interplay of genetic susceptibility factors, environmental factors, alterations of the physiological intestinal flora and a defective regulation of the intestinal immune system.


The objective of this review is to give an overview of these factors and mechanisms, including genetic, environmental and microbial factors, with special alterations of relevant cellular components of the intestinal immune system such as T cells, macrophages and epithelial cells will then be addressed. In addition, the most relevant animal model systems that have contributed to our current pathogenetic understanding will be introduced. Clinically, the natural course of UC with special reference to the risk of colorectal cancer will be addressed.


The elucidation of pathomechanisms at the level of the intestinal immune system provides the potential for novel, effective treatment strategies. Best surgical management of patients with UC, however, still remains a challenge.


Ulcerative colitis 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of MedicineJohannes Gutenberg UniversityMainzGermany

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