Crohns disease and ulcerative colitis are the two principal forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The root causes of these chronic and acute immunological disorders are unclear, but intestinal microorganisms are known to play a key role in the initiation and maintenance of disease. However, at present, there is no clear evidence for a single transmissible agent being involved in IBD aetiology. Although marked alterations occur in faecal and mucosal bacterial communities in IBD, it is unclear whether they are responsible for causing disease, or are due to changes in the gut environment that result from inflammatory reactions and extensive tissue destruction. Despite the involvement of microorganisms in inflammatory processes, antibiotic therapy has generally been unsuccessful in IBD. However, recent studies involving the use of probiotics, prebiotics and synbiotics suggest that there is potential for controlling these diseases through manipulation of the composition of the gut microbiota, and direct interactions with the gut immune system.
Keywords: Inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, gut microbiota, probiotics, prebiotics, synbiotics, sulphur metabolism