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The Science of IBS - Environment and Genetics
      09/17/06 02:36 PM
HeatherAdministrator

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The Science of IBS
From Medscape General Medicine™
MedGenMed Gastroenterology
IBS -- Review and What's New

Given the lack of definitive organic markers for IBS, the absence of a unifying hypothesis regarding its underlying pathophysiology is not surprising. Nevertheless, important advances in research made during the past 50 years have brought us closer than ever to understanding the numerous putative etiologic factors involved in this multifaceted disorder, including environmental factors, genetic links, previous infection, food intolerance, and abnormal serotonergic signaling in the GI tract.

Environmental Influences
Although a patient's psychological state may influence the way in which he or she presents, copes with illness, and responds to treatment, no evidence supports the theory that psychological disturbances are the cause of IBS.[39,40] The biopsychosocial model proposed by Engel takes into account the interplay between biologic, psychological, and social factors.[41] This model proposes that there is an underlying biologic predisposition for IBS that may be acted on by environmental factors and psychological stressors, which contribute to disease development, the patient's perception of illness, and impact on treatment outcomes.[42,43]

Studies evaluating the role of acute stress have shown that stress can result in release of stress-related hormones that affect colonic sensorimotor function (eg, corticotropin-releasing factor [CRF] and inflammatory mediators [eg, interleukin (IL)-1]), leading to inflammation and altering GI motility and sensation.[44] For example, CRF-1 receptors located in the central nervous system (CNS) and gut can affect colonic motility, epithelial water transport, and gut permeability.[45] Sagami and colleagues[46] determined that the peripheral administration of a nonselective corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) receptor antagonist improved GI motility, visceral perception, and negative mood in response to gut stimulation in patients with IBS. These findings suggest that CRH may play an important role in the pathophysiology of IBS.

Genetics
Studies with twins have shown that IBS is twice as prevalent in monozygotic twins as in dizygotic twins.[47-49] Limited research on familial aggregation has found that individuals who have a family member (other than a spouse) with a history of abdominal pain or bowel disorder have more than 2-fold increased odds of having IBS. It is likely that environmental influences may help explain this finding (eg, awareness of the symptom status of family members may make sufferers more open to discussing their symptoms and seeking help for the condition).[50] Preliminary findings also suggest that IBS may be associated with select gene polymorphisms, including those in IL-10, G-protein GNb3, alpha adrenoceptor, and serotonin reuptake transporter (SERT).[47, 51-54] Despite these potential links, however, conclusive evidence for a genetic basis for IBS has not been established.


http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/532089_3

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