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Gut. 2001 Jan;48(1):20-7.

An exaggerated sensory component of the gastrocolonic response in patients with irritable bowel syndrome.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Göteborg, Sweden.



Visceral hypersensitivity is a feature of the irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Postprandial symptoms are common in these patients. The effects of nutrients on colonic perception in IBS are incompletely understood.


We studied 13 healthy subjects and 16 patients with IBS-eight had diarrhoea predominant (IBS-D) and eight constipation predominant (IBS-C) IBS.


Colonic perception thresholds to balloon distension and viscerosomatic referral pattern were assessed before and after duodenal infusion of lipid or saline, respectively. At the end of the infusions, plasma levels of gastrointestinal peptides were determined.


Lipids lowered the thresholds for first sensation, gas, discomfort, and pain in the IBS group but only for gas in the control group. The percent reduction in thresholds for gas and pain after lipids was greater in the IBS and IBS-D groups but not in the IBS-C group compared with controls. IBS patients had an increased area of referred discomfort and pain after lipids compared with before infusion whereas the referral area remained unchanged in controls. No group differences in colonic tone or compliance were observed. In both groups higher levels of cholecystokinin, pancreatic polypeptide, peptide YY, vasoactive intestinal polypeptide, and neuropeptide Y were seen after lipids. Motilin levels were higher in patients and differences in the subgroups were observed. Levels of corticotrophin releasing factor were lower in the constipated group than in the diarrhoea group.


Postprandial symptoms in IBS patients may be explained in part by a nutrient dependent exaggerated sensory component of the gastrocolonic response.

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