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 July 31, 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 July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

Reuters - US Online Video (July 31, 2014) The Republican-led House of Representatives votes to sue President Obama, accusing him of overstepping his executive authority in making changes to the Affordable Care Act. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Despite Health Questions, E-Cigs Are Beneficial: Study

Despite Health Questions, E-Cigs Are Beneficial: Study

Newsy (July 31, 2014) Citing 81 previous studies, new research out of London suggests the benefits of smoking e-cigarettes instead of regular ones outweighs the risks. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

AP (July 31, 2014) Sarasota County, Florida health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after a dangerous bacteria killed one person and made another sick. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
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