Erythrocyte sedimentation rate - possible role in determining the existence of the low grade inflammation in Irritable Bowel Syndrome patients

Med Hypotheses. 2012 Jun;78(6):818-20. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2012.03.020. Epub 2012 Apr 16.


Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), the most prevalent functional gastrointestinal disorder, is best described by the presence of recurrent symptoms of abdominal pain, diarrhea and/or constipation. It has been thought that IBS is stress-related disorder with no known structural abnormalities, e.g. infectious, biochemical or metabolic causes. But, recent evidence suggests that inflammation within the gastrointestinal tract may be of great importance in the pathogenesis of IBS. Our question is could the conventional and widely available general biological markers of inflammation such as erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) be indicator of microscopic inflammatory process in some IBS patients? We hypothesize that mild inflammation in IBS patients could be detected by meaning of a sensitive but cheap and ubiquitous test - ESR. Furthermore we assume that ESR would be related with the disease severity index and decreased general and disease-specific health-related quality of life (HRQoL). A pilot study has been conducted with 86 outpatients (65% female) with IBS, average age 47.76 (SD=13.68). The preliminary results were partly in favor of our hypothesis. They showed that IBS patients with higher ESR expressed lower disease-specific HRQoL (e.g. they expressed more bowel symptoms, social and emotional disturbances related to disease). No significant correlations were found between ESR and the disease severity as well as general HRQoL.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Sedimentation*
  • Croatia
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / complications
  • Inflammation / diagnosis*
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / etiology
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / pathology*
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / psychology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Quality of Life