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J Neuroimmunol. 1997 Dec;80(1-2):149-57.

Association of autonomic nervous hyperreflexia and systemic inflammation in patients with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

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Department of Internal Medicine I, University Medical Center, Regensburg, Germany.


The autonomic nervous system modulates gastrointestinal motility, secretion and mucosal immunity. Its dysfunction may be of pathogenetic importance in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). This study aimed at investigating the autonomic nervous function in patients with IBD. Forty-seven patients with IBD, 28 with Crohn's disease (CD) and 19 with ulcerative colitis (UC), were investigated by means of 5 cardiovascular and 2 pupillary standardized autonomic nervous function tests. In CD and UC, cardiovascular autonomic neuropathy was very rare (0%, 5%), whereas pupillary autonomic neuropathy was more prevalent (21%, 21%). In contrast to autonomic neuropathy, overall cardiovascular (CD: 29%, UC: 26%) and pupillary autonomic hyperreflexia (46%, 37%) were found more often. Patients with CD and UC demonstrated elevated percentiles in the respiratory sinus arrhythmia test as compared to controls (RSA: 82.3 +/- 3.9%, 80.0 +/- 5.9%, controls: 50.0% +/- 1.5%, p < 0.0001). CD patients with, as compared to patients without, RSA hyperreflexia had significantly higher CDAIs (p < 0.001), increased erythrocyte sedimentation rates (p < 0.005) and more often extraintestinal disease manifestations (p < 0.001). UC patients with, as compared to patients without, pupillary latency time hyperreflexia had lower hemoglobin (p < 0.05), lower albumin (p < 0.01) and increased erythrocyte sedimentation rates (p < 0.05). Autonomic hyperreflexia was significantly associated with more severe inflammation and systemic disease in IBD. Hyperreflexia may be a response to inflammation or a pathogenetic element that drives mucosal inflammation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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