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World J Gastroenterol. 2015 Oct 28;21(40):11353-61. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v21.i40.11353.

Genetic epidemiology of irritable bowel syndrome.

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Jasbir Makker, Sridhar Chilimuri, Jonathan N Bella, Department of Medicine, Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY 10457, United States.


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the most common functional gastrointestinal disorder characterized by presence of abdominal pain or discomfort associated with altered bowel habits. It has three main subtypes - constipation predominant IBS (C-IBS), diarrhea predominant IBS (D-IBS) and IBS with mixed features of both diarrhea as well as constipation (M-IBS). Its pathophysiology and underlying mechanisms remain elusive. It is traditionally believed that IBS is a result of multiple factors including hypersensitivity of the bowel, altered bowel motility, inflammation and stress. Initial studies have shown familial aggregation of IBS suggesting shared genetic or environmental factors. Twin studies of IBS from different parts of world have shown higher concordance rates among monozygotic twins than dizygotic twins, and thus suggesting a genetic component to this disorder. Multiple studies have tried to link single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to IBS but there is little evidence that these SNPs are functional. Various molecules have been studied and investigated by the researchers. Serotonin, a known neurotransmitter and a local hormone in the enteric nervous system, has been most extensively explored. At this time, the underlying gene pathways, genes and functional variants linked with IBS remain unknown and the promise of genetically-determined risk prediction and personalize medicine remain unfulfilled. However, molecular biological technologies continue to evolve rapidly and genetic investigations offer much promise in the intervention, treatment and prevention of IBS.


Familial aggregation; Genetics; Irritable bowel syndrome; Serotonin; Single-nucleotide polymorphism

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