Stress Is Linked to Crohn Disease Flare-Ups


Investigators used mouse models and found that the stress hormone suppressed the innate immune system that normally protects the gut from bacteria that is associated with the condition.

Psychological stress might be linked to Crohn disease flare-ups, according to a McMaster University study.

“The main takeaway is that psychological stress impedes the body’s ability to fight off gut bacteria that may be implicated in Crohn disease. Innate immunity is designed to protect us from microbes that do not belong in the gut, like harmful bacteria,” Brian Coombes, PhD, professor and chair of biochemistry and biomedical sciences at McMaster University, said in a statement.

Investigators used mouse models and found the stress hormone suppressed the innate immune system that normally protects the gut from invasive Enterobacteriaceae, a group of bacteria, including E. coli, that is linked to Crohn disease.

Without proper functioning immune cells, the epithelial cellular wall can break down, which would allow microbes associated with Crohn disease to invite the gut and trigger symptom flare up.

Removing stress hormones in the mouse models reported proper function to the epithelial and immune cells and blocked the invasion of harmful microbes.

The findings are still at the pre-clinical stage, and more research needs to be done, Coombes said.

The study was published in Nature Communications.


McMaster-led study links stress to Crohn’s disease flare-ups. EurekAlert. News release. November 18, 2021. Accessed November 18, 2021.

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