Yava L. Jones-Hall, Ariangela Kozik and Cindy Nakatsu from Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA, have recently published a paper in PLoS ONE on the role of Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) in Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and the impact of this pro-inflammatory cytokine on the gut microbiota.
The data presented in this paper show that TNF contributes to the local inflammation and to the microbial alterations in IBD. Moreover, this study shows how inflammation and TNF production are associated with significant differences in the microbiota.
The aim of the study was to compare wildtype (WT) mice with those lacking TNF (Tnf-/-) in an acute TNBS colitis model to investigate the role of TNF in colitis. Another objective was to explore how TNF presence or absence affects the colonic microbiota.
Tnf-/- mice had less severe inflammation than WT mice. Microbiome analysis revealed significant TNF dependent differences in alpha and beta diversity. There were also differences in bacterial species that were also primarily TNF dependent.
The findings suggest that therapy inhibiting TNF and altering specific microbial communities — e.g. via probiotic therapy — may be a potential new therapeutic approach for IBD patients.