Up till now, research on inflammatory bowel disease [IBD] has mainly been focused on the immune cells present in the gastrointestinal tract. However, recent insights indicate that stromal cells also play an important and significant role in IBD pathogenesis. Stromal cells in the intestines regulate both intestinal epithelial and immune cell homeostasis. Different subsets of stromal cells have been found to play a role in other inflammatory diseases [e.g. rheumatoid arthritis], and these various stromal subsets now appear to carry out also specific functions in the inflamed gut in IBD. Novel potential therapies for IBD utilize, as well as target, these pathogenic stromal cells. Injection of mesenchymal stromal cells [MSCs] into fistula tracts of Crohn’s disease patients is already approved and used in clinical settings. In this review we discuss the current knowledge of the role of stromal cells in IBD pathogenesis. We further outline recent attempts to modify the stromal compartment in IBD with agents that target or replace the pathogenic stroma.
© European Crohn’s and Colitis Organisation (ECCO) 2020.