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Dig Dis. 2001;19(3):212-8.

Basic pathophysiologic mechanisms in irritable bowel syndrome.

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UCLA/CURE Neuroenteric Disease Program, Department of Medicine, Physiology and Biobehavioral Sciences, UCLA School of Medicine, 11301 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90073, USA.


Converging evidence supports the concept that the irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptom complex results from altered regulation of gastrointestinal motility and epithelial function, as well as an altered perception of visceral events. Despite similar symptoms, there is likely heterogeneity of underlying dysfunction and pathogenesis in different subgroups of IBS patients: the syndrome may be produced by primary alterations in the central nervous system (CNS; top down model), or by primary alterations in the periphery (bottom up model), or by a combination of both. One plausible mechanism by which alterations in the CNS result in symptoms, is the enhanced responsiveness of central stress/emotion circuits. The physiological effects of psychological and physical stressors on gut function and brain-gut interactions are mediated by outputs of the emotional motor system in terms of autonomic, neuroendocrine, attentional and pain modulatory responses. IBS patients show an enhanced responsiveness of this system manifesting in altered modulation of gastrointestinal motility, secretion, immune function and in alterations in the perceptual and emotional response to visceral events.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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