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Treatments targeting putative mechanisms in irritable bowel syndrome.

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Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.


The pathophysiology of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is heterogeneous; it is possible for several mechanisms to be disturbed in the same patient. Isolating a single target for pharmacological manipulation is also difficult because of the complexity and overlap of the neural circuitry in the enteric and central nervous system. This review summarizes the rationale and efficacy of current and future therapies for IBS, on the basis of putative pathophysiological models. The modulation of gastrointestinal sensorimotor function, intestinal gas handling, the gastrocolonic reflex, neurohormonal stress responses, central processing of afferent information, and microbial flora are the current frontiers for experimental therapeutics for IBS. Patients presumed to have POSTINFECTIOUS IBS have also been targeted as a distinct group. In the very near future, it is unlikely that a single drug will come to the fore as a suitable and successful treatment for everyone with IBS, but new data on potential therapeutic targets lend hope for the improved long-term management of IBS. Disease modification rather than just symptom-based treatments must remain the goal.

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