Reducing chronic intestinal inflammation

Doctoral student Kristina Lechner at the confocal laser microscope evaluating an intestinal sample. (Picture: K. Enderle, Uniklinikum Erlangen)

FAU team of researchers investigating inhibitory substance

When the immune system attacks intestinal microbiota, this leads to chronic intestinal inflammation and considerable pain and discomfort for patients suffering from the disease. A team of researchers at FAU have investigated a new treatment approach. The results have been published in the ‘Journal of Crohn’s and Colitis’.

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease which leads to diarrhoea, intestinal bleeding and cramps. It is triggered by an excessive immune reaction against intestinal microbiota. Within the context of the Collaborative Research Centre SFB 1181 ‘Switching points for resolving inflammation’, researchers from FAU led by PD Dr. Benno Weigmann and Prof. Dr. Markus Neurath, Chair of Internal Medicine I and Department of Medicine at Universitätsklinikum Erlangen have discovered that the inhibitor tofacitinib significantly reduces the production of inflammatory cytokines and the migration of T-cells in patients suffering from ulcerative colitis. However, in the experimental model, the team observed that the inhibitor led to the programmed cellular death of intestinal epithelium cells and, when used in high dosages, prolonged wound healing. ‘Our study suggests that tofacitinib is an effective treatment for chronic intestinal inflammation, provided it is given in low concentrations,’ says PD Dr. Benno Weigmann.

In the Collaborative Research Centre (SFB) 1181 ‘Checkpoints for resolution of inflammation’ at FAU, researchers from various areas of medicine and biology are investigating the basic mechanisms underlying the resolution of inflammatory responses and their clinical relevance.

Further information

More information on SFB 1181:

Original publication: 


PD Dr. Dr. Benno Weigmann

Chair of Internal Medicine I