Functional gastrointestinal disorders and gut-brain axis: What does the future hold?

World J Gastroenterol. 2019 Feb 7;25(5):552-566. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v25.i5.552.


Despite their high prevalence, lack of understanding of the exact pathophysiology of the functional gastrointestinal disorders has restricted us to symptomatic diagnostic tools and therapies. Complex mechanisms underlying the disturbances in the bidirectional communication between the gastrointestinal tract and the brain have a vital role in the pathogenesis and are key to our understanding of the disease phenomenon. Although we have come a long way in our understanding of these complex disorders with the help of studies on animals especially rodents, there need to be more studies in humans, especially to identify the therapeutic targets. This review study looks at the anatomical features of the gut-brain axis in order to discuss the different factors and underlying molecular mechanisms that may have a role in the pathogenesis of functional gastrointestinal disorders. These molecules and their receptors can be targeted in future for further studies and possible therapeutic interventions. The article also discusses the potential role of artificial intelligence and machine learning and its possible role in our understanding of these scientifically challenging disorders.

Keywords: Artificial intelligence; Functional gastrointestinal disorders; Gut-brain axis; Idiopathic bowel syndrome; Machine learning; Microbiome-gut-brain axis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Diagnosis, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Dysbiosis / immunology
  • Dysbiosis / microbiology
  • Dysbiosis / physiopathology*
  • Dysbiosis / therapy
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / immunology
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / therapy
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / physiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / immunology
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / innervation*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / pathology
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / diagnostic imaging
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / physiopathology*
  • Machine Learning
  • Neural Pathways / physiopathology
  • Neuroimaging / methods
  • Probiotics / administration & dosage
  • Vagus Nerve / physiopathology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents