So far, humans with the disorder have the option of bladder distention, dietary changes, exercise, oral drugs, electrical nerve stimulation or surgery. But all treatments target only symptoms because the underlying cause of the disease is unknown.
Buffington plans to test human samples from patients diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome and fibromyalgia to see if the same biomarker is associated with these chronic pain disorders as well. These disorders, like IC, are categorized as what are known as medically unexplained or functional syndromes, and Buffington has explored the possibility that a common link exists among these types of diseases.
He published a review paper in the April issue of the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics in which he suggested that traumatic events experienced by pregnant females might transmit to fetuses a genetic change associated with the stress response.
Buffington suggests that such a genetic change would mean offspring born to these mothers might then have a genetic predisposition to be more vulnerable to certain stressors, and that in some individuals that vulnerability could lead to development of a chronic pain disorder in response to stress.
"When products of the stress response cross the placenta, they can change gene expression in offspring," Buffington said. "My guess is that there are patterns or groups of genes that are changed. And these groups could have something to do with the magnitude and quality of the stress response. I think it's another useful way to look at how these things develop."
|Contact: Tony Buffington|
Ohio State University