Crohn's disease is a granulomatous form of enteritis superficially similar to Johne's disease (paratuberculosis) of ruminants. Recently, a Mycobacterium sp closely related to Mycobacterium paratuberculosis was cultured from tissues of patients with Crohn's disease suggesting that M paratuberculosis may be the aetiologic agent in some cases. In addition, greater seroreactivity to M paratuberculosis has been reported in patients with Crohn's disease. In the present study, we have evaluated the serum antibody response to disrupted M paratuberculosis using ELISA and serum specimens from 33 people with Crohn's disease, 21 with ulcerative colitis, and 12 non-inflammatory bowel disease controls. We failed to find a consistent IgG, IgM, or IgA antibody response to Mycobacterium paratuberculosis. The results indicate that, as in bovine paratuberculosis, serum seroreactivity is not a reliable tool for examining the relationship between human intestinal diseases and mycobacteria.
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