Pushing the Boundaries on Dietary Therapy for Crohn’s Disease (CD-TREAT)

A recent study (available online in advance of publication) (V Svolos et al. Gastroenterology https://doi.org/10.1053/j.gastro.2018.12.002) examines the feasibility and science of modifying a diet to mimic exclusive enteral nutrition.

Full text accepted manuscript (from ScienceDirect/Gastroenterology website): Treatment of Active Crohn’s Disease With an Ordinary Food-based Diet That Replicates Exclusive Enteral Nutrition (PDF 135 pages)

Background: The authors note that exclusive enteral nutrition (EEN) is the only established dietary treatment for Crohn’s disease.

This complicated study had three main parts:

  1. Examining the effects of their CD-TREAT diet compared to EEN in 25 healthy adults in a randomized control trial
  2. Animal experiments (rat model) to explore the anti-inflammatory effect of CD-TREAT
  3. Pilot open-label study of 5 children with CD-TREAT diet (8-weeks)

In the first part of this study, the authors modeled a diet based on the components of the formula modulen. This diet continued to exclude gluten, lactose, and alcohol and tried matching other components (macronutrients, vitamins, minerals, fiber).  In place of maltodextrin (the commonest carbohydrate in EEN feeds), the authors substituted foods high in starch and low in fiber.  Also, the authors decreased carbohydrates in CD-TREAT (particularly complex carbohydrates) in favor of protein.  This diet was given to 25 healthy adults.

Key findings:

  • CD-TREAT induced similar effects to EEN on fecal microbiome, composition,metabolome, mean total sulfide, pH, and short-chain fatty acids (SCFA)

In the second part of this study, in the rat model, CD-TREAT and EEN produced similar changes in bacterial load, short-chain fatty acids, microbiome, and in ileitis severity.

In the third part of the study with 5 children, after 8 weeks —Key findings:

  • 4 (80%) had a clinical response
  • 3 (60%) entered a clinical remission with concurrent reductions in calprotectin (mean decrease of 918 +/- 555 mg/kg)

The CD-TREAT diet appears to affect the taxon abundance of many species of the microbiome in a manner similar to EEN therapy.  The authors noted that CD-TREAT also changed the abundance of genera belonging to Actinobacteria, Bacteroides, and Firmicutes.

Unlike EEN, the CD-TREAT diet is subject to more variable individual intakes; it is not identical in all individuals.

My take: The mechanism of action of EEN therapy remains poorly understood.  The CD-TREAT diet, which is far more diverse than EEN, appears to replicate many of the effects of EEN: “the microbial composition, fecal pH, SCFA, total sulfide, fecal bacterial load and fecal metabolome significantly changed in the same direction for both diets.” A larger clinical study is needed to confirm the effectiveness of the CD=TREAT diet.

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Disclaimer: These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications/diets (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician/nutritionist.  This content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a condition

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