Peripheral factors in the pathophysiology of irritable bowel syndrome

Dig Liver Dis. 2009 Nov;41(11):788-93. doi: 10.1016/j.dld.2009.07.006. Epub 2009 Aug 8.


The pathophysiology of IBS is complex and still incompletely known. Both central and peripheral factors are thought to contribute to the symptoms of IBS, including psychosocial factors, abnormal GI motility and secretion, and visceral hypersensitivity. In this review the involvement of peripheral factors in the pathophysiology in IBS is reviewed. Altered GI motility is commonly found in this patient group, even though a specific motor pattern has been hard to find. Colonic transit has been found to be of relevance for the bowel habit of the patient. Abnormal gas handling within the gut is also commonly seen, and seems to be one, but not the only factor responsive for bloating. There is also limited evidence supporting the presence of abnormal GI secretion in IBS, but its relevance for symptoms remains unclear. Visceral hypersensitivity is currently considered to be one of the most important pathophysiological factors in IBS. It can be modulated by several external and internal factors and recent studies support an association between colorectal sensitivity and the symptoms reported by the patients, especially pain.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Gastrointestinal Motility
  • Humans
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / psychology*
  • Pain Threshold / psychology*