Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Proof that a gut-wrenching complaint -- irritable bowel syndrome -- is not in your head

Date:
August 20, 2010
Source:
Technische Universitaet Muenchen
Summary:
Irritable bowel syndrome makes life miserable for those affected, an estimated ten percent or more of the population. What further irritates many sufferers is that they often are labeled as hypochondriacs, since physical causes have never been identified -- until now. Biologists in Germany 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.

Transection of the gut wall.
Credit: Copyright Technische Universitaet Muenchen

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 based on materials provided by Technische Universitaet Muenchen. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. 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: 10.1053/j.gastro.2009.07.005
  2. 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

Cite This Page:

Technische Universitaet Muenchen. "Proof that a gut-wrenching complaint -- irritable bowel syndrome -- is not in your head." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 August 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100819141950.htm>.
Technische Universitaet Muenchen. (2010, August 20). Proof that a gut-wrenching complaint -- irritable bowel syndrome -- is not in your head. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100819141950.htm
Technische Universitaet Muenchen. "Proof that a gut-wrenching complaint -- irritable bowel syndrome -- is not in your head." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100819141950.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Big Pharma Braces for M&A Wave

Big Pharma Braces for M&A Wave

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 22, 2014) Big pharma on the move as Novartis boss, Joe Jimenez, tells Reuters about plans to transform his company via an asset exchange with GSK, and Astra Zeneca shares surge on speculation that Pfizer is looking for a takeover. Joanna Partridge reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) NBC's "Today" conducted an experiment to see if changing the size of plates and utensils affects the amount individuals eat. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How to Master Motherhood With the Best Work/Life Balance

How to Master Motherhood With the Best Work/Life Balance

TheStreet (Apr. 22, 2014) In the U.S., there are more than 11 million couples trying to conceive at any given time. From helping celebrity moms like Bethanny Frankel to ordinary soon-to-be-moms, TV personality and parenting expert, Rosie Pope, gives you the inside scoop on mastering motherhood. London-born entrepreneur Pope is the creative force behind Rosie Pope Maternity and MomPrep. She explains why being an entrepreneur offers the best life balance for her and tips for all types of moms. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
Catching More Than Fish: Ugandan Town Crippled by AIDS

Catching More Than Fish: Ugandan Town Crippled by AIDS

AFP (Apr. 22, 2014) The village of Kasensero on the shores of Lake Victoria was where HIV-AIDS was first discovered in Uganda. Its transient population of fishermen and sex workers means the nationwide programme to combat the virus has had little impact. Duration: 02:30 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins