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Histology is fundamental to assess two-dimensional intestinal inflammation; however, inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) are often indistinguishable microscopically on the basis of mucosal biopsies. Here, we use stereomicroscopy (SM) to rapidly profile the entire intestinal topography and assess inflammation. We examine the mucosal surface of >700 mice (encompassing >16 strains and various IBD-models), create a profiling catalogue of 3D-stereomicroscopic abnormalities and demonstrate that mice with comparable histological scores display unique sub-clusters of 3D-structure-patterns of IBD pathology, which we call 3D-stereoenterotypes, and which are otherwise indiscernible histologically. We show that two ileal IBD-stereoenterotypes ('cobblestones' versus 'villous mini-aggregation') cluster separately within two distinct mouse lines of spontaneous ileitis, suggesting that host genetics drive unique and divergent inflammatory 3D-structural patterns in the gut. In humans, stereomicroscopy reveals 'liquefaction' lesions and hierarchical fistulous complexes, enriched with clostridia/segmented filamentous bacteria, running under healthy mucosa in Crohn's disease. We suggest that stereomicroscopic (3D-SMAPgut) profiling can be easily implemented and enable the comprehensive study of inflammatory 3D structures, genetics and flora in IBD.

Original publication




Journal article


Nat Commun

Publication Date





Animals, Female, Humans, Inflammation, Intestinal Diseases, Intestinal Mucosa, Male, Mice, Mice, Inbred Strains, Microscopy