Fibromyalgia and Irritable Bowel Syndrome Interaction: A Possible Role for Gut Microbiota and Gut-Brain Axis

Biomedicines. 2023 Jun 13;11(6):1701. doi: 10.3390/biomedicines11061701.


Cinzia Garofalo 1Costanza Maria Cristiani 2Sara Ilari 3Lucia Carmela Passacatini 4Valentina Malafoglia 3Giuseppe Viglietto 1Jessica Maiuolo 4Francesca Oppedisano 4Ernesto Palma 4Carlo Tomino 5William Raffaeli 6Vincenzo Mollace 4Carolina Muscoli 4


Author information

1Department of Experimental and Clinical Medicine, "Magna Græcia" University of Catanzaro, 88100 Catanzaro, Italy.

2Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, Neuroscience Research Center, "Magna Græcia" University of Catanzaro, 88100 Catanzaro, Italy.

3Physiology and Pharmacology of Pain, IRCCS San Raffaele Roma, 00166 Rome, Italy.

4Department of Health Science, Institute of Research for Food Safety & Health (IRC-FSH), "Magna Græcia" University of Catanzaro, 88100 Catanzaro, Italy.

5Scientific Direction, IRCCS San Raffaele Roma, 00166 Rome, Italy.

6Institute for Research on Pain, ISAL Foundation, Torre Pedrera, 47922 Rimini, Italy.


Fibromyalgia (FM) is a serious chronic pain syndrome, characterised by muscle and joint stiffness, insomnia, fatigue, mood disorders, cognitive dysfunction, anxiety, depression and intestinal irritability. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) shares many of these symptoms, and FM and IBS frequently co-exist, which suggests a common aetiology for the two diseases. The exact physiopathological mechanisms underlying both FM and IBS onset are unknown. Researchers have investigated many possible causes, including alterations in gut microbiota, which contain billions of microorganisms in the human digestive tract. The gut-brain axis has been proven to be the link between the gut microbiota and the central nervous system, which can then control the gut microbiota composition. In this review, we will discuss the similarities between FM and IBS. Particularly, we will focus our attention on symptomatology overlap between FM and IBS as well as the similarities in microbiota composition between FM and IBS patients. We will also briefly discuss the potential therapeutic approaches based on microbiota manipulations that are successfully used in IBS and could be employed also in FM patients to relieve pain, ameliorate the rehabilitation outcome, psychological distress and intestinal symptoms.

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