Ulcerative Colitis at 40x Magnification
The cause of ulcerative colitis has not yet been identified, though many researchers consider it an autoimmune disorder. According to this view, the immune system is in a chronically active state although no bacteria, viruses, or other invaders are present in the body, resulting in continuous inflammation characteristic of ulcerative colitis. No one knows what incites such abnormal immune system behavior, but there is apparently a genetic component involved. Studies indicate that as many as 20 percent of ulcerative colitis patients are closely related to someone else with an inflammatory bowel disease. Consequently, research is heavily focused upon identifying specific genes related to the onset of ulcerative colitis.