The hypersensitivity to colonic distension of IBS patients can be transferred to rats through their fecal microbiota

Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2013 Apr;25(4):e272-82. doi: 10.1111/nmo.12103. Epub 2013 Feb 25.


Background: Alterations of intestinal microbiota and hypersensitivity to colonic distension are two features of the irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). However, the role of intestinal microbiota in visceral hypersensitivity of IBS patients is far to be established. The aim of our study was to determine whether the intestinal microbiota is involved in the visceral hypersensitivity in IBS.

Methods: The painful response to colorectal distension and colonic mucosal parameters were assessed in gnotobiotic rats. Germfree (GF) rats were inoculated with the fecal microbiota from IBS patients characterized by hypersensitivity to colorectal distension (IBS HMA rats) or from non-hypersensitive healthy volunteers (Healthy HMA rats). Conventional rats were studied as normosensitivity control. Fecal microbial analyses were carried out in human and HMA rats fecal samples using cultural and molecular approaches.

Key results: The microbial dysbiosis of the IBS gut microbiota (more sulfate-reducing bacteria and Enterobacteriaceae and less bifidobacteria) could be maintained in gnotobiotic rats. The number of abdominal contractions in response to colorectal distensions was significantly higher in IBS HMA rats than in healthy HMA rats. No difference was observed between healthy HMA and conventional rats. Colorectal compliance, epithelial paracellular permeability, and density of colonic mucosal mast cells were similar in the three groups of rats.

Conclusions & inferences: We herein showed that sensitivity to colonic distension of IBS patients can be transferred to rats by the fecal microbiota. Mucosal alterations associated with microbiota transfer are not involved in this hypersensitivity. The altered IBS microbiota may have important role in the hypersensitivity characterizing IBS patients through specific bacterial metabolites.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Colon / immunology
  • Colon / microbiology*
  • Feces / microbiology*
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Motility / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Hypersensitivity / microbiology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / microbiology*
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / immunology
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / microbiology*
  • Male
  • Microbiota / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred F344
  • Species Specificity