Oral tolerance and inflammatory bowel disease

Thomas A. Kraus, Lloyd Mayer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Purpose of review: Oral tolerance refers to the ability of the mucosal immune system to actively inhibit systemic immune responses to fed antigens. Recently, clinical trials have used oral tolerance as a therapy for certain chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and type I diabetes. Inflammatory bowel disease is now widely thought to be caused by the breakdown of oral tolerance through a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Therefore, it seems incongruous that clinicians would try to use oral tolerance therapy to alleviate the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease. Yet, armed with the results of select animal models, trials have begun for oral tolerance therapy for Crohn's disease. This review will outline the recent advances in understanding oral tolerance, explore the relation between oral tolerance and inflammatory bowel disease, and comment on the likelihood of successful oral tolerance therapy for inflammatory bowel disease. Recent findings: The results of an oral tolerance trial in Crohn's disease patients in Israel have shown some promising results, whereas the results of studies of experimentally induced oral tolerance in patients with inflammatory bowel disease from the authors' laboratory have shown that feeding a neoantigen in an attempt to induce oral tolerance is not successful in patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Summary: The fundamental difference in the mechanisms of oral tolerance in mice and humans requires a more focused effort to understand the human mucosal immune system before oral tolerance therapy for autoimmune and chronic inflammatory disorders reaches its full potential.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)692-696
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Opinion in Gastroenterology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Crohn's disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Oral tolerance


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