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A role for inflammation in irritable bowel syndrome?
  1. G Barbara,
  2. R De Giorgio,
  3. V Stanghellini,
  4. C Cremon,
  5. R Corinaldesi
  1. Department of Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr G Barbara, Department of Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology, St Orsola Hospital, Via Massarenti 9, I-40138 Bologna, Italy;


Attention has been directed to the putative role of low grade mucosal inflammation in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) on the basis of evidence showing that some patients with IBS have an increased number of inflammatory cells in the colonic and ileal mucosa. Previous episodes of infectious enteritis, genetic factors, undiagnosed food allergies, and changes in bacterial microflora may all play a role in promoting and perpetuating this low grade inflammatory process. Human and animal studies support the concept that inflammation may perturb gastrointestinal reflexes and activate the visceral sensory system even when the inflammatory response is minimal and confined to the mucosa. Thus abnormal neuroimmune interactions may contribute to the altered gastrointestinal physiology and hypersensitivity that underlies IBS. A brief review of the human and animal studies that have focused on the putative role of intestinal inflammation and infections in the pathogenesis of IBS is given.

  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • sensory perception
  • motor abnormalities
  • mucosal inflammation
  • immunology
  • IBS, irritable bowel syndrome

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