Are we one step closer to overcoming Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
Do you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
If you do, don’t worry, since here is some good news for you.
It seems that we are one giant step closer to finding the cause of this condition, as well as the effective therapy for it.
Researchers at KU Leuven have identified the biological mechanism that explains why some people have abdominal pain after they eat certain foods.
The study, which was conducted on mice and a small number of humans, is published in Nature.
Researches infected mice with stomach flu and gave them ovalbumin at the same time, which is a protein found in the whites of eggs that are often used in these types of experiments to trigger an immune response.
Once the infection cleared, the mice were given ovalbumin again to see whether their immune systems had become sensitive to it or not.
The following turned out to be the case: the ovalbumin itself did indeed activate the mast cells, release histamine and cause digestive intolerance. This was not the case in mice that received ovalbumin, but were not infected with the stomach flu.
Subsequently, the researchers were able to identify the different steps of the immune response that linked ovalbumin uptake with the mast cell activation. Remarkably, this immune response only occurred in the part of the intestine that was previously infected by the disruptive bacteria. More common symptoms of the food allergy were not caused by the ovalbumin.
The researchers then looked at whether the people with IBS responded in the same way as mice did. They injected food antigens associated with IBS into the gut wall of 12 patients suffering from IBS. Localized immune responses similar to those in mice developed in the patients. No response was observed in the healthy volunteers.
When we combine them with the results of the previous clinical study which showed an improvement during the treatment of IBS patients with antihistamines - agents that suppress allergic reactions by blocking the action of histamine - the results are significant.
A larger-scale clinical trial of the antihistamine treatment is currently underway.