Biomarkers can reveal irritable bowel syndrome

May 7, 2012
Researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy, at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have discovered a way of confirming the disorder using stool samples. Credit: Photo: University of Gothenburg

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is hard to diagnose as well as treat, but researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy, at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have discovered a way of confirming the disorder using stool samples.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) causes chronic or recurring problems with pain and discomfort in the together with changes in bowel habits. The syndrome is common and is believed to be linked to dysfunction of the and , but our understanding of IBS is incomplete, making it difficult to diagnose and treat.

Researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy have now identified specific proteins that can be used to identify patients with IBS: "The proteins we've been investigating, granins, are found in various forms with different functions in the nervous, immune and digestive systems," explains researcher Lena Öhman. "Our studies show that IBS patients have higher levels of some granins and lower levels of others in their faeces."

Further studies are needed, but if granins can be used to diagnose IBS, it is hoped that this will contribute to the development of new treatments. The study, which compared 82 IBS patients with 29 healthy subjects, was published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Granins (chromogranin A) have previously been shown to serve as biomarkers for other inflammatory diseases in the gut, such as ulcerous colitis and Crohn's disease. The present study looked at the variants secretogranin II and chromogranin B and found that IBS patients have high levels of the former and low levels of the latter.

IBS affects an estimated 10-20% of the population and causes chronic or recurring problems with pain and/or discomfort in the abdomen, together with changes in bowel habits. The causes are largely unknown, but disturbances of the gut flora and a change in the pattern of the gut's immune defence have been mooted as possible factors behind the symptoms. There is currently no cure for IBS, but in many cases the symptoms can be alleviated.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Antibody found that fight MERS coronavirus

July 28, 2015

(Medical Xpress)—An international team of researchers has found a MERS neutralizing antibody—a discovery that could perhaps lead to a treatment for people infected with the virus. In their paper published in Proceedings ...

Experimental MERS vaccine shows promise in animal studies

July 28, 2015

A two-step regimen of experimental vaccines against Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) prompted immune responses in mice and rhesus macaques, report National Institutes of Health scientists who designed the vaccines. ...

Can social isolation fuel epidemics?

July 21, 2015

Conventional wisdom has it that the more people stay within their own social groups and avoid others, the less likely it is small disease outbreaks turn into full-blown epidemics. But the conventional wisdom is wrong, according ...

Lack of knowledge on animal disease leaves humans at risk

July 20, 2015

Researchers from the University of Sydney have painted the most detailed picture to date of major infectious diseases shared between wildlife and livestock, and found a huge gap in knowledge about diseases which could spread ...

IBD genetically similar in Europeans and non-Europeans

July 20, 2015

The first genetic study of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) to include individuals from diverse populations has shown that the regions of the genome underlying the disease are consistent around the world. This study, conducted ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.