Neuroendocrine Dysregulation in Irritable Bowel Syndrome Patients: A Pilot Study

J Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2017 Jul 30;23(3):428-434. doi: 10.5056/jnm16155.


Background/aims: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a multifactorial disorder, involving dysregulation of brain-gut axis. Our aim was to evaluate the neuroendocrine activity in IBS.

Methods: Thirty IBS and 30 healthy volunteers were enrolled. Psychological symptoms were evaluated by questionnaires. Urinary 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid, plasma serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT), endothelin, and neuropeptide Y (NPY), and plasma and urinary cortisol levels were evaluated. Fourteen IBS subjects underwent microneurography to obtain multiunit recordings of efferent postganglionic muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA).

Results: Prevalent psychological symptoms in IBS were maladjustment (60%), trait (40%) and state (17%) anxiety, obsessive compulsive-disorders (23%), and depressive symptoms (23%). IBS showed increased NPY (31.9 [43.7] vs 14.8 [18.1] pmol/L, P = 0.006), 5-HT (214.9 [182.6] vs 141.0 [45.5] pg/mL, P = 0.010), and endothelin [1.1 [1.4] vs 2.1 [8.1] pg/mL, P = 0.054], compared to healthy volunteers. Moreover, plasma NPY, endothelin, cortisol and 5-HT, and urinary 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid were associated with some psychological disorders (P ≤ 0.05). Despite a similar resting MSNA, after cold pressor test, IBS showed a blunted increase in MSNA burst frequency (+4.1 vs +7.8 bursts/min, P = 0.048; +30.1% vs +78.1%, P = 0.023). Baseline MSNA tended to be associated with urinary cortisol (ρ = 0.557, P = 0.059). Moreover, changes in heart rate after mental stress were associated with urinary cortisol (ρ = 0.682, P = 0.021) and changes in MSNA after mental stress were associated with plasma cortisol (ρ = 0.671, P = 0.024)."

Conclusion: Higher concentrations of endothelin, NPY, and 5-HT were found to be associated with some psychological disorders in IBS patients together with an altered cardiovascular autonomic reactivity to acute stressors compared to healthy volunteers.

Keywords: Autonomic nervous system; Endothelin-1; Irritable bowel syndrome; Neuropeptide Y; Serotonin.