Colonic motility abnormality in patients with irritable bowel syndrome exhibiting abdominal pain and diarrhea

Am J Gastroenterol. 2001 May;96(5):1499-506. doi: 10.1111/j.1572-0241.2001.03804.x.


Objectives: Although colon dysmotility is recognized as a pathophysiological factor in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), it has not been characterized. We have investigated motility patterns in IBS patients with abdominal pain and frequent defecation or diarrhea and in healthy volunteers.

Methods: A recording catheter that had six polyvinyl tubes with infusion ports was placed in the transverse, descending, and sigmoid colon under fluoroscopy. After 2-h basal recordings, motility responses to cholecystokinin octapeptide (CCK-8) and a meal were studied for 3 h. The motility index (MI) and number of high amplitude propagating contractions (HAPCs) in 10 IBS patients were compared with those of 10 controls. HAPCs were correlated with abdominal pain, and colon transit time using radio-opaque markers was determined. Using human colon muscle strips, the effect of CCK-8 on muscle contractions was also studied.

Results: The MI and mean number and peak amplitude of HAPCs in IBS patients were significantly greater than in controls. These abnormalities paralleled markedly shortened colonic transit time. Abdominal pain coincided with >90% of HAPCs. Dose-dependent muscle contraction by CCK-8 was profoundly suppressed both by loxiglumide and atropine.

Conclusions: The dysmotility in this subset of IBS patients was characterized by significantly increased occurrences of powerful HAPCs that paralleled rapid colon transit and were accompanied by abdominal pain. Thus, it is suggested that this powerful contraction is one of the causes of abdominal pain. The action of CCK-8 seems to be mediated via the colon enteric nervous system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / etiology*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Colon / drug effects
  • Colon / physiopathology*
  • Colonic Diseases, Functional / complications*
  • Colonic Diseases, Functional / physiopathology
  • Diarrhea / etiology*
  • Fasting
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Motility*
  • Gastrointestinal Transit
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Smooth / drug effects
  • Muscle, Smooth / physiopathology
  • Postprandial Period
  • Reference Values
  • Sincalide / pharmacology


  • Sincalide