Irritable bowel syndrome: new insights into symptom mechanisms and advances in treatment

Spiller R1. F1000Res. 2016 Apr 29;5. pii: F1000 Faculty Rev-780. doi: 10.12688/f1000research.7992.1. eCollection 2016.
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1Nottingham Digestive Diseases Centre, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK.


Despite being one of the most common conditions leading to gastroenterological referral, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is poorly understood. However, recent years have seen major advances. These include new understanding of the role of both inflammation and altered microbiota as well as the impact of dietary intolerances as illuminated by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which has thrown new light on IBS. This article will review new data on how excessive bile acid secretion mediates diarrhea and evidence from post infectious IBS which has shown how gut inflammation can alter gut microbiota and function. Studies of patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) have also shown that even when inflammation is in remission, the altered enteric nerves and abnormal microbiota can generate IBS-like symptoms. The efficacy of the low FODMAP diet as a treatment for bloating, flatulence, and abdominal discomfort has been demonstrated by randomized controlled trials. MRI studies, which can quantify intestinal volumes, have provided new insights into how FODMAPs cause symptoms. This article will focus on these areas together with recent trials of new agents, which this author believes will alter clinical practice within the foreseeable future.

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