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Adherent-invasive Escherichia coli in inflammatory bowel disease
  1. Carolina Palmela1,2,
  2. Caroline Chevarin3,
  3. Zhilu Xu4,
  4. Joana Torres1,2,
  5. Gwladys Sevrin3,
  6. Robert Hirten1,
  7. Nicolas Barnich3,
  8. Siew C Ng4,
  9. Jean-Frederic Colombel1
  1. 1 Division of Gastroenterology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City, New York, USA
  2. 2 Division of Gastroenterology, Hospital Beatriz Ângelo, Loures, Portugal
  3. 3 Université Clermont Auvergne, Inserm U1071, USC-INRA 2018, M2iSH, CRNH Auvergne, F-63000 Clermont-Ferrand, France
  4. 4 Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, Institute of Digestive Diseases, LKS Institute of Health Science, State Key Laboratory of Digestive Disease, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
  1. Correspondence to Professor Jean-Frederic Colombel, Division of Gastroenterology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City, NY 10029-6574, USA; Jean-frederic.colombel{at}


Intestinal microbiome dysbiosis has been consistently described in patients with IBD. In the last decades, Escherichia coli, and the adherent-invasive E coli (AIEC) pathotype in particular, has been implicated in the pathogenesis of IBD. Since the discovery of AIEC, two decades ago, progress has been made in unravelling these bacteria characteristics and its interaction with the gut immune system. The mechanisms of adhesion of AIEC to intestinal epithelial cells (via FimH and cell adhesion molecule 6) and its ability to escape autophagy when inside macrophages are reviewed here. We also explore the existing data on the prevalence of AIEC in patients with Crohn’s disease and UC, and the association between the presence of AIEC and disease location, activity and postoperative recurrence. Finally, we highlight potential therapeutic strategies targeting AIEC colonisation of gut mucosa, including the use of phage therapy, bacteriocins and antiadhesive molecules. These strategies may open new avenues for the prevention and treatment of IBD in the future.

  • chronic ulcerative colitis
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • crohn’s disease
  • e. coli
  • bacterial adherence

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  • Contributors CP, CC and ZX did the bibliographic search. CP, CC, ZX, GS, JT and RH drafted the manuscript. NB, SN and JFC reviewed the manuscript. All authors contributed to the final manuscript.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.