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Gut. 2003 May;52(5):663-70.

Increased platelet depleted plasma 5-hydroxytryptamine concentration following meal ingestion in symptomatic female subjects with diarrhoea predominant irritable bowel syndrome.

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Academic Department of Medicine, University Hospital of South Manchester, Manchester, UK.



Meal ingestion is often associated with exacerbation of gastrointestinal symptoms in subjects with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Furthermore, recent preliminary data suggest that 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) concentration in platelet poor plasma is elevated following meal ingestion in some subjects with diarrhoea predominant IBS (d-IBS) compared with healthy subjects, although it is not known whether this is related to postprandial symptomatology.


To expand on previous data by evaluating a larger number of subjects but also to assess plasma 5-hydroxyindole acetic acid (5-HIAA) concentrations, 5-HT turnover, platelet 5-HT stores, and any relationship to symptomatology.


We assessed platelet depleted plasma 5-HT and 5-HIAA concentrations for two hours (60 minute intervals) under fasting conditions, and then for a further four hours (30 minute intervals) after a standard carbohydrate meal (457 kcal), together with fasting platelet 5-HT concentrations in 39 female subjects with d-IBS (aged 19-52 years; mean age 33) and 20 healthy female volunteers (aged 20-46 years, mean age 28). IBS symptomatology, in particular abdominal pain and bloating, and urgency to defecate were assessed throughout the study


When related to fasting levels, there was no statistically significant difference in postprandial plasma 5-HT concentrations between d-IBS and healthy subjects. However, when fasting levels were not taken into consideration, d-IBS subjects exhibited higher postprandial plasma 5-HT concentrations compared with healthy subjects (p=0.040). Furthermore, d-IBS subjects who exhibited postprandial symptomatology had higher levels of postprandial plasma 5-HT, whether assessed with respect to fasting baseline levels (p=0.069) or not (p=0.047), compared with d-IBS subjects who did not report postprandial symptomatology. This appeared to be associated with a concomitant increase in plasma 5-HIAA (p=0.161) but reduction in turnover (p=0.058). Lastly, d-IBS subjects had higher platelet concentrations of 5-HT than healthy subjects (p=0.009).


These data suggest that postprandial symptomatology may be associated with increased platelet depleted plasma 5-HT concentrations in female subjects with d-IBS. In addition, the presence of increased platelet stores of 5-HT may act as a useful marker for the diagnosis and management of d-IBS.

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