What are the central neurohormonal mechanisms by which irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) occurs?

Updated: Dec 11, 2019
  • Author: Jenifer K Lehrer, MD; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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Abnormal glutamate activation of N- methyl-D- aspartate (NMDA) receptors, activation of nitric oxide synthetase, activation of neurokinin receptors, and induction of calcitonin gene–related peptide have been observed.

The limbic system mediation of emotion and autonomic response enhances bowel motility and reduces gastric motility to a greater degree in patients who are affected than in controls. Limbic system abnormalities, as demonstrated by positron emission tomography, have been described in patients with irritable bowel syndrome and in those with major depression.

The hypothalamic-pituitary axis may be intimately involved in the pathogenesis of IBS. Motility disturbances correspond to an increase in hypothalamic corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) production in response to stress. CRF antagonists eliminate these changes.

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