Visceral hypersensitivity in irritable bowel syndrome

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Altered central processing, abnormal gastrointestinal motility and visceral hypersensitivity may be possible major pathophysiology of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). These factors affect each other and are probably associated with development of IBS symptoms. It has been confirmed that lower pain threshold to colonic distention was observed in most of patients with IBS than healthy subjects. We have investigated pain perception of the descending colon among different subtypes of IBS. There was no difference in pain threshold to colonic distention between IBS with diarrhea and constipation. Some brain regions such as the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) may play a major role for generating pain and/or pain-related emotion in humans. IBS patients showed greater activation in the perigenual ACC during painful rectal distention compared with healthy subjects. Inflammation, stress and the combination of both stimuli can induce significant increase in visceral sensitivity in animal models. Serotonin (5-HT) can modulate visceral perception. It has been thought that 5-HT3 receptors may play an important role for conveying visceral sensation from the gut. Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) may also modulate visceral pain hypersensitivity in IBS. CRH receptor-1 antagonist significantly prevented an increase in gut sensitivity in rats. It has been demonstrated that non-specific CRH receptor antagonist α-helical CRH significantly reduced abdominal pain score during gut stimulus in patients with IBS. In conclusion, visceral hypersensitivity is common in IBS patients and probably plays a major role in development of the symptoms and both central and peripheral factors may enhance the pain sensitivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-121
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology (Australia)
Issue numberSUPPL. 3
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Apr


  • Brain-gut interaction
  • Inflammation
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Stress
  • Visceral hypersensitivity


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