Intestinal fibrosis is an inevitable complication in patients with inflammatory bowel disease [IBD], occurring in its two major clinical manifestations: ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. Fibrosis represents the final outcome of the host reaction to persistent inflammation, which triggers a prolonged wound healing response resulting in the excessive deposition of extracellular matrix, eventually leading to intestinal dysfunction. The process of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition [EMT] represents an embryonic program relaunched during wound healing, fibrosis and cancer. Here we discuss the initial observations and the most recent findings highlighting the role of EMT in IBD-associated intestinal fibrosis and fistulae formation. In addition, we briefly review knowledge on the cognate process of endothelial-to-mesenchymal transition [EndMT]. Understanding EMT functionality and the molecular mechanisms underlying the activation of this mesenchymal programme will permit designing new therapeutic strategies to halt the fibrogenic response in the intestine.
- Colitis, Ulcerative/pathology
- Crohn Disease/pathology
- Disease Models, Animal
- Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition
- Inflammatory Bowel Diseases/pathology
- Intestinal Fistula/etiology