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Am J Gastroenterol. 2012 May;107(5):727-9. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2012.61.

Irritable bowel syndrome and the elusive mast cells.


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the most common condition seen by gastroenterologists. It presents with alternating symptoms of bowel dysfunction that often worsens with stress. The cause of these symptoms eludes investigators and many attempts have been made to discover an underlying pathology. This is a daunting task since symptoms come and go, and change characteristics. Furthermore, the pathology of IBS is unlikely to be identical in all patients. In addition, all symptoms and all features studied thus far have a strong overlap with healthy volunteers. Elsewhere in this issue, Braak et al. report a well-designed clinical investigation in patients with IBS and come to the conclusion that IBS is not characterized by mast cell or other immune cell proliferation, but by immune dysregulation in the colon. Is this the final answer?

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