Intestinal fibrosis in IBD--a dynamic, multifactorial process

Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2009 Apr;6(4):228-35. doi: 10.1038/nrgastro.2009.31.


Intestinal fibrosis is a common and potentially serious complication of IBD that results from the reaction of intestinal tissue to the damage inflicted by chronic inflammation. The traditional view that fibrosis is inevitable or irreversible in patients with IBD is progressively changing in light of improved understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie the pathogenesis of fibrosis in general, and, in particular, intestinal fibrosis. These mechanisms are complex and dynamic, and involve multiple cell types, interconnected cellular events and a large number of soluble factors. In addition, owing to a breakdown of the epithelial barrier during inflammation of the gut, luminal bacterial products induce an innate immune response, which is triggered by activation of immune and nonimmune cells alike. Comprehension of the mechanisms of intestinal fibrosis will create a conceptual and practical framework that could achieve the specific blockade of fibrogenic pathways, allow for the estimation of risk of fibrotic complications, permit the detection of early fibrotic changes and, eventually, enable the development of treatments customized to the type and stage of each patient's IBD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Fibroblasts / pathology
  • Fibrosis / etiology
  • Fibrosis / pathology
  • Fibrosis / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / complications*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / pathology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / physiopathology
  • Intestinal Diseases / etiology*
  • Intestinal Diseases / pathology
  • Intestinal Diseases / physiopathology
  • Intestines / pathology*
  • Intestines / physiopathology