Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease is an umbrella term used to describe very similar chronic disease conditions. The most common forms are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, is not contagious. It usually progresses in acute and chronic flare-ups during which the lining of the intestines becomes inflamed due to incorrect regulation of the immune system in the intestine. The symptoms of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease usually first become noticeable during early adulthood, although they may also occur for the first time at a later stage in life.

The precise causes are not yet fully understood. Experts believe that several different factors are to blame. The microbiome, that is all microorganisms in the patient’s body, various environmental factors and a genetic disposition lead to incorrectly regulated activity of the immune system in the intestine.

Some experts believe that these diseases develop on the basis of a genetic disposition only after the patient comes into contact with pathogens and allergens.


IBD is characterised by recurring phases of high disease activity (flare-ups) followed by phases where no symptoms occur (remission).

Chronic inflammatory bowel disease can occur in different parts of the bowel and is often associated with the following symptoms:
- Pain when passing stools
- Stomach cramps
- Fatigue and feeling weak
- General feeling of being unwell
- Weight loss
- Nausea
- Anaemia
- High temperature
- Diarrhoea (often contains mucus and blood in the case of ulcerative colitis)

Treatment and therapy for chronic inflammatory bowel diseases at the Department of Medicine 1 – Gastroenterology, Pneumology and Endocrinology at Universitätsklinikum Erlangen, which is part of the DZI, has a particular focus on improving diagnoses and providing the best and most up-to-date treatments available.

Immunotherapy is the focal point of both our research and treatment, allowing us to provide patients with one of the most modern approaches for the treatment of chronic inflammatory bowel disease. The aim of immunotherapy is to stimulate the body’s own immune system, enabling it to reduce the inflammatory processes in the body and fight the disease independently.

The department uses all immunosuppressive drugs, JAK inhibitors and biopharmaceuticals that are approved for use for treating patients with chronic inflammatory bowel diseases.

Immunosuppressive drugs are used to suppress the immune system’s excessive immune reaction which promotes inflammation. These drugs include azathioprine, methotrexate or 6-mercaptopurine.

JAK inhibitors such as tofacitinib are primarily used to treat moderate to severe cases of ulcerative colitis. The aim of JAK inhibitors is to block the signal pathways within a cell that are suspected of promoting the occurrence of the disease.

Biopharmaceuticals are pharmaceutical drug products manufactured from biological sources that can be used to block substances that promote inflammation. Adalimumab, golimumab, infliximab, ustekinumab and vedolizumab are all approved for use in the treatment of chronic IBD.

These drugs are administered orally, subcutaneously or intravenously. Treatment is selected in interdisciplinary collaboration with specialists from other departments. Patients with chronic inflammatory bowel disease receive the best possible care due to the close collaboration with specialists in the Department of Surgery, as well as the Departments of Dermatology, Rheumatology (Department of Medicine 3) and Radiology. In addition, our patients benefit from the latest concepts in exercise, nutrition, and sport medicine at the Hector Centre for Nutrition, Exercise and Sport at the Department of Medicine 1.

For outpatient care we provide specialised consultations dedicated solely to the treatment of patients with chronic inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and indeterminate colitis.

We collaborate with the Department of Paediatrics at Universitätsklinikum Erlangen to ease the transition of teenage patients with chronic inflammatory bowel diseases to the departments that treat adult patients. We also collaborate with hospitals and doctors in the region.

Further treatment options at the DZI:

We have established a research clinic for patients who do not respond to conventional therapies. The focus of this clinic is on conducting trials with promising new substances that are undergoing tests in the final phase before approval.

As these substances have already shown very promising results in previous studies, the tested drugs are expected to be highly effective. In addition to other JAK inhibitors, these treatments include IL-23 antibodies, regulatory t-cells, IL-36R antibodies and mesenchymal stem cells.

Do you have any questions about the treatment of chronic inflammatory bowel diseases? Please feel free to get in touch with us by phone, e-mail or via our contact form.