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Post-infectious irritable bowel syndrome

Spiller, Robin; Campbell, Eugene

Current Opinion in Gastroenterology: January 2006 - Volume 22 - Issue 1 - p 13–17
doi: 10.1097/01.mog.0000194792.36466.5c
Gastrointestinal infections

Purpose of review Irritable bowel syndrome patients form a heterogeneous group with a variable contribution of central and peripheral components. The peripheral component is prominent in irritable bowel syndrome developing after infection (post-infectious irritable bowel syndrome) and this has proved a profitable area of research.

Recent findings Recent studies have overthrown the dogma that irritable bowel syndrome is characterized by no abnormality of structure by demonstrating low-grade lymphocytic infiltration in the gut mucosa, increased permeability and increases in other inflammatory components including enterochromaffin and mast cells. Furthermore, increased inflammatory cytokines in both mucosa and blood have been demonstrated in irritable bowel syndrome. While steroid treatment has proved ineffective, preliminary studies with probiotics exerting an anti-inflammatory effect have shown benefit.

Summary The study of post-infectious irritable bowel syndrome has revealed the importance of low-grade inflammation in causing irritable bowel syndrome symptoms. It has suggested novel approaches to irritable bowel syndrome including studies of serotonin and histamine metabolism which may be relevant to other subtypes of of the disease.

Wolfson Digestive Diseases Centre, University Hospital, Nottingham, UK

Correspondence to Robin Spiller, Professor of Gastroenterology, Wolfson Digestive Diseases Centre, C Floor, South Block, University Hospital, Nottingham, NG7 2UH, UK Tel: +0115 970 9352; e-mail:

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.