Crohn's Disease Forum » General IBD Discussion » Enzyme Involved In Inflammatory Bowel Disease Discovered

06-04-2009, 04:48 PM   #1
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Enzyme Involved In Inflammatory Bowel Disease Discovered


The enzyme, coded for by the MEP1A gene, is a zinc-containing metalloprotease called meprin, and is abundant in the intestine. A protease is an enzyme that breaks down proteins in the body.

Researchers at Penn State College of Medicine studied the role of meprin in IBD using genetically altered mice lacking the ability to produce the enzyme in collaboration with colleagues in Switzerland who studied the enzyme in IBD patients. Meprin is abundant in the latter part of the small intestine, or terminal ileum, and is also present in the large intestine at a lower level. The European researchers found an alteration in the meprin gene that correlated with IBD. They then compared the levels of meprin in affected and unaffected sections of colons from IBD patients and from healthy people. The amount of enzyme in the IBD patient's inflamed colon was significantly lower than that in normal colon sections. The researchers concluded that their findings strongly correlate the severity of inflammation associated with both Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis with low meprin levels.


It thrills me that they're continuing to look into IBD so thoroughly. The future looks bright for us.
06-04-2009, 05:03 PM   #2
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Wow, this is a really exciting find. I wonder how soon they can get cracking on therapeutic possibilities based on the information in this study... Wouldn't it be nice if they created some kinda meprin miracle drug for us?
06-04-2009, 08:24 PM   #3
D Bergy
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This is quite interesting.

Maybe the lack of this enzyme is why my blood tests have always showed blood protein on the lower end of the scale, in spite of my high protein diet.

This could be the missing link in my digestion problem. Not really a problem other than I do not feel I am getting what I should from my food.

06-04-2009, 08:45 PM   #4
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great news... thanks so much for sharing this info!
06-04-2009, 11:12 PM   #5
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thanks for sharing. yet another advance and hopefully one that leads to improved treatments.

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06-05-2009, 01:21 AM   #6
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its also great to see that its stuff like this that everyones fund raising efforts goes to right?
great job to anyone who's done walks or pledged for someone, the BBQ's, any other fundraisers.
real results are being produced!
06-05-2009, 01:25 AM   #7
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It is neat that they are making new progress ! Thanks for sharing
06-05-2009, 01:56 AM   #8
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Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but if we're lacking an enzyme that breaks down proteins, wouldn't that mean that foods with high protein concentration don't get digested as well as other foods?
06-05-2009, 03:03 AM   #9
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This is good news, but we must remember that they have only found a correlation-simply a link between the two, this does not meen that the lack of the enzyme causes the inflamation. (sorry I do alot of stats in my subjects!)
It may be a while before they can use this in anyway. But it is very good that they have found this link.
Edit: ttyon, i am no expert, just an A2 Biology student, someone else on here will probably know more than me and be able to know for sure, but all enzymes are specific to one particular substrate that they break down. They havn't said on here exactly what it is that this one does, but my guess is that there are many different protease enzymes which all break down different protiens.
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Last edited by xX_LittleMissValentine_Xx; 06-05-2009 at 03:10 AM.
06-05-2009, 08:32 AM   #10
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As Holly said, a correlation does not establish cause and effect. Crohn's may just as likely cause a deficiency as the deficiency causes Crohn's.
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06-05-2009, 12:38 PM   #11
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You are somewhat correct that a lot of enzymes typically have one substrate, however a number of enzymes do not. In the case of proteases they have an amino acid address that they target so in a way they are tuned to a single substrate, it just happens to be found in a number of proteins. This means this protease can likely break down a number of proteins so long as they contain a 4-8 residue amino acid sequence.
06-05-2009, 01:30 PM   #12
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I meant to have a more complete response than above, but research called. Anyway, a lack of a protease would mean higher protein levels rather than lower levels since there would be reduced degredation of certain proteins in the intestines. However, the effects of this reduced degredation would depend highly on which proteins are not being broken down properly. I don't know much about this protease so I can't tell you why this effect is being observed, but it is a good step in understanding the disease.

As far as therapeutics go, it would be at least another 8-10 years before anything could come of this. Given the fact this protease needs to reach a certain location rather than experiencing systemic delivery as with most therapeutics, it is even less likely it would be able to delivered as a biologic. The other option would be to find an agonist that increases its natural activity, but once again agonists of proteins are inherently harder to find than antagonists, so it would be a longshot to find a drug to improve this proteins activity. I hate to be the bearer of bad news on the therapy front in this regard, but the research does have a lot of value as we can learn about upstream and downstream proteins of this protease to possibly find a more easily druggable target.
06-10-2009, 03:40 AM   #13
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In this case, do you think taking enzyme supplements helps? Any experiences?
06-10-2009, 11:13 AM   #14
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Not a clue really, but for a protease it likely wouldn't since those are more complex proteins.

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