New insights into irritable bowel syndrome pathophysiological mechanisms: contribution of epigenetics

J Gastroenterol. 2023 May 9. doi: 10.1007/s00535-023-01997-6.Online ahead of print.


Giovanni Dothel # 1 2Maria Raffaella Barbaro # 3Aldo Di Vito 1Gloria Ravegnini 1Francesca Gorini 1Sarah Monesmith 1Emma Coschina 1Eva Benuzzi 1Daniele Fuschi 3Marta Palombo 4Francesca Bonomini 4Fabiana Morroni 1Patrizia Hrelia 5Giovanni Barbara 3 4Sabrina Angelini 1 6


Author information

1Department of Pharmacy and Biotechnology, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.

2Connect By Circular Lab SRL, Madrid, Spain.

3IRCCS Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria Di Bologna, Bologna, Italy.

4Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.

5Department of Pharmacy and Biotechnology, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy. Patrizia.hrelia@unibo.it.

6Inter-Departmental Center for Health Sciences & Technologies, CIRI-SDV, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.

#Contributed equally.


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a complex multifactorial condition including alterations of the gut-brain axis, intestinal permeability, mucosal neuro-immune interactions, and microbiota imbalance. Recent advances proposed epigenetic factors as possible regulators of several mechanisms involved in IBS pathophysiology. These epigenetic factors include biomolecular mechanisms inducing chromosome-related and heritable changes in gene expression regardless of DNA coding sequence. Accordingly, altered gut microbiota may increase the production of metabolites such as sodium butyrate, a prominent inhibitor of histone deacetylases. Patients with IBS showed an increased amount of butyrate-producing microbial phila as well as an altered profile of methylated genes and micro-RNAs (miRNAs). Importantly, gene acetylation as well as specific miRNA profiles are involved in different IBS mechanisms and may be applied for future diagnostic purposes, especially to detect increased gut permeability and visceromotor dysfunctions. In this review, we summarize current knowledge of the role of epigenetics in IBS pathophysiology.



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