Sunday, August 22, 2010

Proof That a Gut-Wrenching Complaint -- Irritable Bowel Syndrome -- Is Not in Yo

Proof That a Gut-Wrenching Complaint -- Irritable Bowel Syndrome -- Is Not in Your Head

ScienceDaily (Aug. 20, 2010) — Irritable bowel syndrome makes life
miserable for those affected -- an estimated ten percent or more of
the population. And what irritates many of them even more is that they
often are labeled as hypochondriacs, since physical causes for
irritable bowel syndrome have never been identified.

Now, biologists at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) have
shed new light on the matter: They have discovered mini-inflammations in the mucosa of the gut, which upset the sensitive balance of the bowel and are accompanied by sensitization of the enteric nervous system.

Flatulence, constipation and diarrhea, nausea and stomach cramps:
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can turn digestion into a nightmare.
Frequent visits to the bathroom are often accompanied by sleep
disturbances, headaches, and backaches. In Germany alone, some seven
million people are affected by the disorder -- and by the fact that
their irritable bowel syndrome is often deemed psychosomatic. This is
because the organic trigger of the disease has never been discovered,
and consequently the various therapeutic interventions are
disappointing for both the patients and their doctors. That may soon
change, however, because now, for the first time, biologists in Munich
have nailed down hidden physical causes of this bowel disorder.

Professor Michael Schemann's research team at the TUM Department for
Human Biology has managed to demonstrate that micro-inflammations of
the mucosa cause sensitization of the enteric nervous system, thereby
causing irritable bowel syndrome. Using ultrafast optical measuring
methods, the researchers were able to demonstrate that mediators from
mast cells and enterochromaffin cells directly activate the nerve
cells in the bowel. This hypersensitivity of the enteric nervous
system upsets communication between the gut's mucosa and its nervous
system, as project leader Prof. Schemann explains: "The irritated
mucosa releases increased amounts of neuroactive substances such as
serotonin, histamine and protease. This cocktail produced by the body
could be the real cause of the unpleasant IBS complaints."

The TUM researchers in human biology are blazing a trail as they
follow this lead. Their current focus is to what extent nerve
sensitization correlates with the severity of symptoms. Working with
colleagues from Amsterdam, they have already substantiated the
clinical relevance of their results: Irritable bowel symptoms improved
after treatment with an antihistamine known for its immune-stabilizing
effect in the treatment of allergic reactions such as hay fever.
Thanks to funding from the German Research Foundation (DFG), the
scientists are now investigating whether the improved symptoms are
accompanied by a normalization of nerve activity.

Successful identification of the active components could enable the
development of effective drugs to treat irritable bowel syndrome. Even
now, though, the TUM team have made life easier for many IBS patients,
in that they have shown that the chronic disorder does have physical
causes and is not merely "in their heads."


Story Source:

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by
ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by Technische Universitaet


Journal References:

Sabine Buhner, Qin Li, Sheila Vignali, Giovanni Barbara, Roberto De
Giorgio, Vincenzo Stanghellini, Cesare Cremon, Florian Zeller, Rupert
Langer, Hannelore Daniel. Activation of Human Enteric Neurons by
Supernatants of Colonic Biopsy Specimens From Patients With Irritable
Bowel Syndrome. Gastroenterology, 2009; 137 (4): 1425 DOI:

T. K. Klooker, B. Braak, K. E. Koopman, O. Welting, M. M. Wouters, S.
van der Heide, M. Schemann, S. C. Bischoff, R. M. van den Wijngaard,
G. E. Boeckxstaens. The mast cell stabiliser ketotifen decreases
visceral hypersensitivity and improves intestinal symptoms in patients
with irritable bowel syndrome. Gut, 2010; DOI: 10.1136/gut.2010.213108

1 comment:

Joanne said...

An interesting post but a word of caution in that Antihistamine has a immune suppressing effect although this may only be mild it is not necessarily a good thing to take if we are sufferring witha bacterial infection such as Lyme Disease or a viral infection such as possibly XMRV/HGRV