Inhibited postprandial retrograde cyclic motor pattern in the distal colon of patients with diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome

Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2023 Jul 1;325(1):G62-G79. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00114.2022. Epub 2023 May 10.


Patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) have recurrent lower abdominal pain, associated with altered bowel habit (diarrhea and/or constipation). As bowel habit is altered, abnormalities in colonic motility are likely to contribute; however, characterization of colonic motor patterns in patients with IBS remains poor. Utilizing fiber-optic manometry, we aimed to characterize distal colonic postprandial colon motility in diarrhea-predominant IBS. After an overnight fast, a 72-sensor (spaced at 1-cm intervals) manometry catheter was colonoscopically placed to the proximal colon, in 13 patients with IBS-D and 12 healthy adults. Recordings were taken for 2 h pre and post a 700 kcal meal. Data were analyzed with our two developed automated techniques. In both healthy adults and patients with IBS-D, the dominant frequencies of pressure waves throughout the colon are between 2 and 4 cycles per minute (cpm) and the power of these frequencies increased significantly after a meal. Although these pressure waves formed propagating contractions in both groups, the postprandial propagating contraction increase was significantly smaller in patients compared with healthy adults. In healthy adults during the meal period, retrograde propagation between 2 and 8 cpm was significantly greater than antegrade propagation at the same frequencies. This difference was not observed in IBS-D. Patients with IBS-D show reduced prevalence of the retrograde cyclic motor pattern postprandially compared with the marked prevalence in healthy adults. We hypothesize that this reduction may allow premature rectal filling, leading to postprandial urgency and diarrhea.NEW & NOTEWORTHY Compared with healthy adults this study has shown a significant reduction in the prevalence of the postprandial retrograde cyclic motor pattern in the distal colon of patients with diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome. We hypothesize that this altered motility may allow for premature rectal filling which contributes to the postprandial urgency and diarrhea experienced by these patients.

Keywords: colon; irritable bowel syndrome; meal; motility.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Colon
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Gastrointestinal Motility
  • Humans
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome*
  • Postprandial Period
  • Rectum