A Belgian gastroenterologist recently provided an explanation for one of the mechanisms behind irritable bowel syndrome. However, this disease is characterized by abdominal pain following the consumption of certain foods. In France alone, this syndrome affects more than 5% of the population.
One of the mechanisms at work elucidated
Many people have already experienced abdominal pain after consuming a food. The point is, this happens without these same people being prone to allergies or having celiac disease. Thus, it is surely a question of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Without seriousness, this syndrome is still disabling if it is chronic. Now the point is that its origin is unknown, while there are strong suspicions of multiple factors.
In a study published in the journal Nature on January 13, 2021, a Belgian gastroenterologist highlighted one of the mechanisms behind irritable bowel syndrome. For the person concerned, the syndrome in question following an intestinal infection, a hypothesis that his team tried to demonstrate.
A very telling experience
In the case of a healthy gut, there is naturally no stimulation of immune cells in the presence of food. In contrast, in an intestine affected by IBS, certain foods stimulate mast cells, these cells of innate immunity. The latter secrete a molecule – histamine, which causes abdominal pain. Guy E. Boeckxstaens and his team took as their starting point the following hypothesis: many people suffer from IBS due to an intestinal infection. They also mentioned a possible explanation: the immune system of these individuals became sensitive to food passing through their intestines. at the time of infection.
Mice were subjected to a simulation of intestinal infection. The researchers infected several animals with bacteria and fed them ovalbumin (egg protein). After the infection was defeated by the immune system, the scientists again fed the mice with ovalbumin. Result? The mast cells activated and secreted histamine. This therefore had the effect of generating abdominal pain, whereas it was not no question of a bacterial presence. As for rodents that had not suffered any infection by the bacteria at the start, the study leaders observed no change.
Thus in the case of IBS, it is a question of a abnormal immune response, local and non-systemic. In other words, the histamine has been secreted in the area initially impacted by the bacterial infection. Finally, the researchers claimed to have observed this phenomenon in humans as well, which enabled them to support their hypothesis.