Biomarkers can reveal irritable bowel syndrome

May 7, 2012, University of Gothenburg
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

Don't hold your nose and close your mouth when you sneeze, doctors warn

January 15, 2018
Pinching your nose while clamping your mouth shut to contain a forceful sneeze isn't a good idea, warn doctors in the journal BMJ Case Reports.

Surfers three times more likely to have antibiotic-resistant bacteria in guts

January 14, 2018
Regular surfers and bodyboarders are three times more likely to have antibiotic resistant E. coli in their guts than non-surfers, new research has revealed.

New antifungal provides hope in fight against superbugs

January 12, 2018
Microscopic yeast have been wreaking havoc in hospitals around the world—creeping into catheters, ventilator tubes, and IV lines—and causing deadly invasive infection. One culprit species, Candida auris, is resistant ...

Dengue takes low and slow approach to replication

January 11, 2018
A new study reveals how dengue virus manages to reproduce itself in an infected person without triggering the body's normal defenses. Duke researchers report that dengue pulls off this hoax by co-opting a specialized structure ...

Different strains of same bacteria trigger widely varying immune responses

January 11, 2018
Genetic differences between different strains of the same pathogenic bacterial species appear to result in widely varying immune system responses, according to new research published in PLOS Pathogens.

Human protein may aid neuron invasion by virus that causes hand, foot, and mouth disease

January 11, 2018
A human protein known as prohibitin may play a significant role in infection of the nervous system by EV71, one of several viruses that can cause hand, foot, and mouth disease. Issac Too of the National University of Singapore ...

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.