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Preventing fibrosis in IBD: update on immune pathways and clinical strategies.

INTRODUCTION: Intestinal fibrosis is a common and serious complication of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) driving stricture formation in Crohn's disease patients and leading to submucosal damage in ulcerative colitis. Recent studies provided novel insights into the role of immune and nonimmune components in the pathogenesis of intestinal fibrosis. Those new findings may accelerate the development of anti-fibrotic treatment in IBD patients.

AREAS COVERED: This review is designed to cover the recent progress in mechanistic research and therapeutic developments on intestinal fibrosis in IBD patients, including new cell clusters, cytokines, proteins, microbiota, creeping fat and anti-fibrotic therapies.

EXPERT OPINION: Due to the previously existing major obstacle of missing consensus on stricture definitions and the absence of clinical trial endpoints, testing of drugs with an anti-fibrotic mechanism is just starting in stricturing Crohn's disease (CD). A biomarker to stratify CD patients at diagnosis without any complications into at-risk populations for future strictures would be highly desirable. Further investigations are needed to identify novel mechanisms of fibrogenesis in the intestine that are targetable and ideally gut specific.

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