This study from Harvard University examined brushings from the mouths of 114 children, some of whom had Crohn’s disease or UC and some of whom were healthy. The study identified all the bacteria present in the samples based on their genetic code. The overall bacterial populations differed between the healthy children and those with Crohn’s disease, but not when the same comparison was made against those with UC. A reduction in the variety of bacterial life was also seen in the children with Crohn’s, but not those with UC when compared with healthy children. When looking at specific groups of bacteria, there were differences in both Crohn’s and UC when compared with the healthy group, most notably in the bacterial group (phylum) Fusobacteria, but these changes were most prominent in Crohn’s.
It is well recognised that the inflammatory disease of UC is generally restricted to the colon whilst Crohn’s can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract including the mouth. This study suggests there may be bacterial changes of direct relevance to this observation. The paper did not explore bacteria in other areas of the gut and did not study Crohn’s patient with active Crohn’s disease in their mouth specifically, but these would be interesting groups to examine and compare in future studies.
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