Immunology of Inflammatory Bowel Disease

  • Fergus Shanahan
  • Stephan Targan
Part of the Topics in Gastroenterology book series (TGEN)


Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are chronic inflammatory diseases of the intestine, the causes of which are not known. Although genetic factors, biochemical abnormalities, and infectious or other exogenous agents might contribute to the etiopathogenesis or trigger the onset of disease, the immune system probably mediates the tissue damage.1–3 The role of the immune system in the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease was first suspected on clinical grounds. These included an association with other putative immunologically mediated disorders, a responsiveness to immunosuppressive agents and the failure to consistently detect an infectious culprit. Subsequent investigations revealed multiple and varied immunological alterations that have been difficult to interpret or to fit to a coherent concept of the pathogenetic sequence. A major problem has been the difficulty in distinguishing primary immunological abnormalities from those that are secondary to the disease process itself. In addition, research progress has been impeded by the absence of a suitable animal model of inflammatory bowel disease; most of the available models exhibit an acute mucosal inflammation and do not mimic the chronic relapsing condition in hu mans.4 However, several advances have been made, and the purpose of this chapter is to review current theories and experimental approaches to the im-munopathology of these disorders. Recent developments will be emphasized; other sources provide comprehensive accounts of earlier work.5–11


Mast Cell Inflammatory Bowel Disease Ulcerative Colitis Colonic Epithelial Cell Mucosal Immune System 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fergus Shanahan
    • 1
  • Stephan Targan
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Gastroenterology, School of Medicine, Center for the Health SciencesUniversity of California-Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA

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