The pathophysiology of irritable bowel syndrome: inflammation and motor disorder

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24 Citations (Scopus)


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common disorders and a heterogeneous condition in view of symptoms and underlying mechanisms. Though underlying causes of pathophysiologic changes remain unclear, low grade mucosal inflammation and abnormal intestinal motility are accepted mechanisms which alter gut function and generate symptoms of IBS. First, before 1980s, abnormal colonic and rectal motor functions were regarded as the main pathophysiology of IBS, but only 25-75% of IBS patients have apparent motor abnormalities which differ from the motor functions in normal controls. So, various gastrointestinal motility tests were not indicated for the diagnosis of IBS. The high-amplitude propagating contractions of colon in IBS patients may be related to the visceral pain perception. Second, the low grade mucosal inflammation may be involved in the pathophysiology of visceral hypersensitivity. Post infectious IBS (PI-IBS) occupied 6-17% of the total IBS and some previous prospective studies reported that 7-33% of acute bacterial enteritis patients developed IBS after 6-12 months of infection. The relative risk of IBS in the gastroenteritis cohort was 11.9 and the strongest risk factor is the duration of diarrhea. After enteritis event, the increased number of immunocytes, mast cells and large amount of lymphocytes infiltration were revealed in mucosa and enteric nervous system of the gut. Beside the inflammatory cells, enterochromaffin cells, cytokines and inducible nitric oxide may be related to the pathophysiologic mechanism of PI-IBS. Lastly, the abnormalities in the gastrointestinal autonomic nervous system can induce constipation or motor disorders, but further research should elucidate it.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-110
Number of pages10
JournalThe Korean journal of gastroenterology = Taehan Sohwagi Hakhoe chi
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Feb

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


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