Intestinal Inflammation Link with Systemic Chromosome Damage?

In a study conducted with mice, UCLA scientists have found the first link between intestinal inflammation with systemic chromosome damage. They study showed that local intestinal inflammation induced DNA damage to lymphocytes of the peripheral blood circulating throughout the body. Previously, it was not known that intestinal inflammation can cause damage throughout the body. This finding may lead to the early identification and treatment of human inflammatory disorders, some of which increase risk for several types of cancer.

Robert Schiestl, Jonsson Cancer Center scientist, said that inflammatory diseases have been linked to some lymphomas and abdominal, liver and colorectalcancers. Early detection of the inflammation and immediate treatment of the disease may prevent the damage that eventually leads to these cancers. The study appears in the June 1, 2009, edition of Cancer Research. Conditions that cause intestinal inflammation include Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis and Celiac disease.

Presently, a full endoscopic examination is the only way to diagnose the patient. The study found that chromosome damage in the peripheral circulating blood could be used as a biomarker to identify those with intestinal inflammation before they show any symptoms. The severity of the disease correlated with higher levels of chromosome damage in the blood.

The study suggests that a biomarker blood test could replace the expensive and invasive endoscopic exam and allow physicians to identify the inflammatory disease at its early stage. Reducing the inflammation may also prevent the cancer. UCLA researchers have launched a clinical trial to confirm their findings in humans focusing on patients with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.