Inflammatory Bowel Disease

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Idiopathic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) has only been described in humans and includes Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative colitis. Crohn’s disease can involve any area of the gastrointestinal tract, and is characterized by segmental involvement, leaving other areas unaffected, in characteristic “skip” lesions. The inflammation, tends to be severe, involving all layers of the bowel wall, leading to fissures, fistulas, sinuses and adhesions. Surgery is not curative, because of recurrence. A cause has not been found. Ulcerative colitis affects primarily the colonic mucosa and can become a chronic condition, with bouts occurring over many years. Because it is generally restricted to the colon, surgery, with removal of the colon, can be curative. Surgery to remove the colon is done after many years of affliction, because of the incidence of carcinomas that arise in these patients, due to long-standing chronic inflammation. In cotton-top tamarins colitis has been observed with changes similar to that seen in ulcerative colitis of humans, and they respond to sulfasalazine, similar to treatment of humans. In some cotton-top tamarins, the chronic colitis has been observed to progress to adenocarcinoma, as has been observed in humans.  However, IBD has not been reported in great apes or most other monkeys.


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