Systematic review and meta-analysis of calculating degree of comorbidity of irritable bowel syndrome with migraine

Biopsychosoc Med. 2023 Jun 8;17(1):22. doi: 10.1186/s13030-023-00275-4.


Tatvan S Todor 1 2Shin Fukudo 3


Author information

1Department of Behavioral Medicine, Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine, 2-1 Seiryo, Aoba, Sendai, 980-8575, Japan.

2Maastricht University, Maastricht, Netherlands.

3Department of Behavioral Medicine, Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine, 2-1 Seiryo, Aoba, Sendai, 980-8575, Japan. sfukudo@med.tohoku.ac.jp.


Background: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and migraines are often comorbid each other. These disorders are likely to be bidirectionally linked through the gut-brain axis and share several underlying mechanisms including central nervous system sensitization. However, quantitative analysis of comorbidity was not reported enough. The aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to calculate the present degree of comorbidity of these two disorders.

Methods: A literature search was performed searching for articles describing IBS or migraine patients with the same inverse comorbidity. Pooled odds ratios (ORs) or hazard ratios (HRs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were then extracted. The total effect estimates were determined and presented by random effect forest plots for the group of articles with IBS patients with migraine and the group of articles on migraine sufferers with comorbid IBS separately. The average results of these plots were compared.

Results: The literature search resulted in initial 358 articles and final 22 articles for the meta-analysis. The total OR values obtained were 2.09 [1.79 - 2.43] in IBS with comorbid migraine or headache, 2.51 [1.76 - 3.58] for migraineurs with comorbid IBS and an overall HR of 1 .62 [1.29 - 2.03] was found for cohort studies of migraine sufferers with comorbid IBS. A similar expression of a selection of other comorbidities was found in IBS and migraine patients, especially for depression and fibromyalgia a strong similarity was found in their expression rate.

Conclusions: This systematic review with meta-analysis was the first to combine data on IBS patients with comorbid migraine and migraineurs with comorbid IBS. The fact that closely related existential rates were observed between these two groups should be used as motivation for future research to further investigate these disorders for why this similarity occurs. Mechanisms involved in central hypersensitivity such as genetic risk factors, mitochondrial dysfunction and microbiota are particularly good candidates. Experimental designs in which therapeutic methods for these conditions can be exchanged or combined may also lead to the discovery of more efficient treatment methods.

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