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Irritable bowel syndrome can have genetic causes
Date:12/10/2008

Irritations of the bowel can have genetic causes. Researchers at the Institute of Human Genetics at Heidelberg University Hospital have discovered this correlation. The causes of what is known as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), one of the most common disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, are considered unclear making diagnosis and treatment extremely difficult. The results from Heidelberg, which were published in the prestigious jour-nal "Human Molecular Genetics", improve the outlook for an effective medication against a disease that is frequently played down as a func-tional disorder.

In Germany, approximately five million people are affected by IBS, women about twice as often as men. But only around 20 percent of these people even consult a physician. Many patients suffer from constipation, others from severe diarrhea, or a combination of both. The illness affects the general condition and quality of life of these patients and often lasts for months or even years.

Modified receptors lead to overstimulation of the bowel

Serotonin plays an important role in the complex processes in the diges-tive tract just as it affects sleep, mood, and blood pressure. Various types of receptors are located in the intestine, to which serotonin attaches according to the lock and key principle and thus transmits cellular signals.

"We have determined that patients who suffer from irritable bowel syn-drome with diarrhea show a higher frequency of certain mutations ", ex-plains Dr. Beate Niesler, who investigates the genetic causes of complex diseases with her team in the Department of Human Molecular Genetics (Director: Prof. Gudrun Rappold) at the Heidelberg Institute of Human Genetics. These mutations appear to cause changes in the composition or number of receptors on the cell surface. "The signal transduction in the digestive tract may be disturbed and this may lead to overstimulation of the intestine. Resulting dist
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Contact: Dr. Annette Tuffs
annette.tuffs@med.uni-heidelberg.de
0049-622-156-4536
University Hospital Heidelberg
Source:Eurekalert

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