Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common of all medical disorders worldwide and, while for some it represents no more than a nuisance, for others it imposes significant negative impacts on daily life and activities. IBS is a heterogeneous disorder and may well have a number of causes which may lie anywhere from the external environment to the contents of the gut lumen and from the enteric neuromuscular apparatus and the gut immune system to the central nervous system. Consequently, the paradigm of the gut-brain axis, which includes the participation of these various factors, has proven a useful model to assist clinicians and patients alike in understanding the genesis of symptoms in IBS. Now, given the widespread interest in the gut microbiome in health and disease, in general, reports of disordered enteric bacterial communities in IBS, and experimental data to indicate that components of the gut microbiota can influence brain morphology and function, as well as behavior and cognition, this concept has been extended to encompass the microbiota-gut-brain axis. The implications of this novel concept to the assessment and management of IBS will be explored in this review.
- Journal Article