JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- As many as one in four people in westernized countries experience pain or discomfort in their upper abdomen, and physicians have almost nothing to offer except anti-acid medicines, which usually dont work. Now, in a small but novel study, researchers have found evidence that an abnormal amount of inflammatory cells populates the upper intestine of affected individuals, which suggests a fresh way of understanding the common complaint.
The study, published in the September issue of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology and conducted by researchers in the U.S., Sweden, England, and Australia, may also point to innovative methods to treat the condition and eliminate discomfort.
Newly-designed, targeted anti-inflammatory medicine aimed at blocking the function of these cells might be very useful, if our results are validated, says the studys lead researcher, Nicholas J. Talley, M.D., Chair of Internal Medicine at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville.
We are quite intrigued by what we have discovered, because it probably represents a new disease entity, one that might be capable of diagnosis and management, Dr. Talley says.
The scientists dont know why inflammatory cells are present in one particular region of the small intestine, the duodenum that connects to the stomach, but they theorize that it could result from an allergic reaction to certain foods. Patients examined did not have infections, celiac disease (an autoimmune reaction to gluten protein), or cancer.
I believe food intolerance can lead to motor and sensory abnormalities that are perceived as pain and discomfort, Dr. Talley says. But we have no evidence yet that this is definitely the case.
To conduct the study, researchers in Sweden offered endoscopic examinations to 51 Swedish participants who complained of nonulcer dyspepsia as well as 49 randomly selected participants who had no pain. Dyspepsia is chronic or recurrent pain, or a
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