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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 13, Issue 6, Pages 509-516

Intestinal Inflammation and the Gut Microflora

Derek M McKay

Intestinal Disease Research Programme, McMaster University, 1200 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario, L8N 3Z5, Canada

Received 3 December 1998; Accepted 9 December 1998

Copyright © 1999 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The idea that the enteric microflora play a role in the pathogenesis or pathophysiology of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is not new. Indeed, identification of an infective cause for chronic IBD, and particularly for Crohn’s disease, has been the focus of extensive research efforts. During the 1990s, there has been a noticeable re-emergence of interest in the link between bacteria and functional bowel disorders, and the value of antibiotic therapy to treat gut inflammatory disorders. A variety of experimental evidence from both laboratory model systems and clinical investigations is reviewed with respect to a pivotal role for enteric bacteria in gut inflammation. The voluminous scientific literature on this subject precludes any comprehensive synopsis of the area; instead, pertinent studies are cited to illustrate the ability of bacteria and their products to evoke or exacerbate gut inflammation.