Increased Postprandial Colonic Motility and Autonomic Nervous System Activity in Patients With Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Prospective Study

Tanaka Y1,2, Kanazawa M2,3, Palsson OS3, Tilburg MAV3, Gangarosa LM3, Fukudo S2, Drossman DA3, Whitehead WE3. J Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2018 Jan 30;24(1):87-95. doi: 10.5056/jnm16216.
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1 Tohoku Medical Megabank Organization, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan.

2 Department of Behavioral Medicine, Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine, Sendai, Japan.

3 Center for Functional GI and Motility Disorders, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC, USA.


BACKGROUND/AIMS: The prevalence and severity of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) declines with age, but the cause of this is unknown. This study tested 2 hypotheses: (1) autonomic nervous system responses to eating and bowel distention, measured by heart rate variability (HRV), differs by age in IBS patients and (2) HRV is correlated with colonic motility and IBS symptoms.

METHODS: One hundred and fifty-six Rome III positive IBS patients and 31 healthy controls underwent colonic manometry with bag distention in the descending colon, followed by ingestion of an 810-kcal meal. HRV, evaluated by low frequency (%LF; 0.04-0.15 Hz) component, high frequency (%HF; 0.15-0.40 Hz) component, and the LF/HF ratio, was measured during colonic distention and after the meal. Motility index and subjective symptom scores were simultaneously quantified.

RESULTS: Both colonic distention and eating decreased %HF and increased the LF/HF ratio, and both indices of autonomic nervous system correlated with age. In IBS patients, %HF negatively correlated with the postprandial motility index after adjusting for age. The %HF and LF/HF ratios also correlated with psychological symptoms but not bowel symptoms in IBS patients.

CONCLUSION: Decreased vagal activity is associated with increase in age and greater postprandial colonic motility in patients with IBS, which may contribute to postprandial symptoms.

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