Bacterial DNA within granulomas of patients with Crohn's disease--detection by laser capture microdissection and PCR

Am J Gastroenterol. 2004 Aug;99(8):1539-43. doi: 10.1111/j.1572-0241.2004.40103.x.


Objectives: We previously reported the use of laser capture microdissection (LCM) and PCR to detect the presence of Mycobacterium paratuberculosis DNA in granulomas of patients with Crohn's disease. While this does not imply a cause-effect relationship, it may influence the disease process because bacterial DNA has immunomodulatory effects. The aim of this study was to determine whether DNA from nonmycobacterial commensals, such as Escherichia coli, is also increased in the granulomas of Crohn's disease.

Methods: Archival tissue from 15 surgical cases of Crohn's disease and 10 non-Crohn's granulomatous bowel disease controls were examined. Granulomas were isolated using LCM, and the extracted DNA was examined for presence of E. coli DNA by nested PCR amplification of a 135 base-pair segment of the uidA gene.

Results: E. coli DNA was detected in microdissected granulomas in 12/15 Crohn's disease patients and in 1/10 non-Crohn's control granulomas (p < 0.001). Also, E. coli DNA was detected in 8/15 Crohn's full-thickness sections and in 4/10 control full-thickness sections.

Conclusions: E. coli DNA may be detected more frequently in Crohn's granulomas than in other non-Crohn's bowel granulomas. This may indicate a tendency for lumenal bacteria to colonize inflamed tissue, or may be due to increased uptake of bacterial DNA by gut antigen presenting cells. In light of previous detection of M. paratuberculosis DNA in Crohn's granulomas, the nonspecific nature of the type of bacterial DNA present in granulomas is evidence against any one bacterium having a significant causative role in Crohn's disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Crohn Disease / microbiology*
  • Crohn Disease / pathology
  • DNA, Bacterial / analysis*
  • Escherichia coli / isolation & purification*
  • Granuloma / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Intestines / pathology
  • Microdissection
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • DNA, Bacterial