Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammation of the large intestine (colon). In patients with ulcerative colitis, ulcers and inflammation of the inner lining of the colon lead to symptoms of abdominal pain, diarrhea, and rectal bleeding.
Ulcerative colitis is closely related to another condition of inflammation of the intestines called Crohn’s disease. Together, they are frequently referred to as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Ulcerative colitis likely involves abnormal activation of the immune system in the intestines. The immune system is composed of immune cells and the proteins that these cells produce. These cells and proteins serve to defend the body against harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other foreign invaders. Activation of the immune system causes inflammation within the tissues where the activation occurs. (Inflammation is, in fact, an important mechanism of defense used by the immune system.) Normally, the immune system is activated only when the body is exposed to harmful invaders. In patients of ulcerative colitis, however, the immune system is abnormally and chronically activated in the absence of any known invader. The continued abnormal activation of the immune systems causes chronic inflammation and ulceration. The susceptibility to abnormal activation of the immune system is genetically inherited. First degree relatives (brothers, sisters, children, and parents) of patients with IBD are thus more likely to develop these diseases.
Ulcerative colitis facts
- Ulcerative colitis is an inflammation of the large intestine (colon).
- The cause of ulcerative colitis is unknown.
- Intermittent rectal bleeding, crimpy abdominal pain and diarrhea often are symptoms of ulcerative colitis.
- The diagnosis of ulcerative colitis can be made with a barium enema, but direct visualization (sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy) is the most accurate means of diagnosis.
- Long-standing ulcerative colitis is a risk factor for colon cancer.
- Treatment of ulcerative colitis may involve both medications and surgery.
- Ulcerative colitis also can cause inflammation in joints, spine, skin, eyes, and the liver and its bile ducts.
The Autologous Stem Cell Transplant is a new technique that restores tissue function in patients with severe damage in different body organs. In general terms, the treatment consists of hematopoietic stem cell collection from the patient’s own body; concentration, preservation and infusion of those cells in the patient’s affected organs and body areas. The stem cells are harvested from the bone marrow or peripheral blood of the patient.
Stem cells and specifically, mesenchymal stem cells with their immunoregulatory characteristics, differentiation capacity and trophic potential home to inflamed tissue and start producing anti-inflammatory agents. These mediators act locally and do not suppress the immune response of the patient’s whole body. Autologous stem cells derived from bone marrow or adipose tissue induce the production of T regulatory cells, a type of immune cell whose function is to protect the body against immunological self-attack.