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Dig Dis Sci. 2004 Jan;49(1):84-7.

IBS subjects with methane on lactulose breath test have lower postprandial serotonin levels than subjects with hydrogen.

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GI Motility Program, Department of Medicine, CSMC Burns and Allen Research Institute, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California 90048, USA.


We have previously shown that methane on lactulose breath test (LBT) is highly associated with constipation in IBS and that methane gas itself slows small bowel transit in dogs. Previous studies suggest that serotonin may have a role in the control of transit in IBS. In this study, we aim to evaluate the role of serotonin in methane producing IBS subjects. Rome I-positive IBS subjects were recruited into the study after exclusion criteria were met. A fasting LBT was performed after subjects filled out a questionnaire rating the degree of constipation and diarrhea. Within 7 days of this test, subjects returned fasting for determination of serotonin before and after a 75-g oral glucose meal. The serotonin response was compared between hydrogen and methane producing IBS subjects. After 2 subjects were excluded for inadequate blood samples, 18 subjects completed the study. Four of 18 subjects produced methane. The postprandial serotonin level in methane producing IBS subjects was lower than in hydrogen producers (P < 0.05). Methane producers had a reduction in serotonin after glucose. Methane producing IBS subjects have reduced postprandial serotonin. Whether methane is a surrogate marker of constipation or contributing to the reduced serotonin remains to be determined.

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