Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common gastrointestinal ailments among those seeking health care for gastrointestinal disorders. Despite its prevalence, IBS pathophysiology is still not completely understood. Continued elucidation of IBS etiological mechanisms will lead to a greater appreciation of possible therapeutic targets. In the past decade, there has been increasing focus on the possible connection between increased intestinal mucosal permeability, inflammation, and visceral hypersensitivity. Increased permeability in subsets of IBS patients has been observed and the possible mechanisms underlying this defect are just beginning to be understood. The objectives of this review are to summarize the role of the healthy intestinal epithelium as a barrier between the lumen and the rest of the body with a focus on tight junctions; to examine the lines of evidence that suggest that different triggers lead to increased intestinal mucosal permeability and disruption of tight junctions in IBS patients; and to explore how this increased permeability may elicit immune responses that affect afferent nerves, resulting in the pain associated with IBS.
- intestinal epithelial barrier
- functional gastrointestinal disorders
- mast cells
- visceral hypersensitivity
- Copyright © 2012 the American Physiological Society