Researchers have detected a connection between Brachyspira, a genus of bacteria in the intestines, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) — especially the form that causes diarrhea.
Although the discovery needs confirmation in larger studies, there is hope that it might lead to new remedies for many people with irritable bowel syndrome, the study published in the journal Gut, reported.
The pathogenic bacterial genus, Brachyspira, is not usually present in human gut flora.
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A new study links the bacterium to IBS, particularly the form with diarrhea, and shows that the bacterium hides under the mucus layer protecting the intestinal surface from fecal bacteria.
To detect Brachyspira, analyses of fecal samples — which are routinely used for studying the gut flora — were insufficient. Instead, the scientists analyzed bacterial proteins in mucus from biopsies taken from the intestine.
“Unlike most other gut bacteria, Brachyspira is in direct contact with the cells and covers their surface,” said study author Karolina Sjöberg Jabbar from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.
“I was immensely surprised when we kept finding Brachyspira in more and more IBS patients, but not in healthy individuals,” Jabbar added.
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The study was based on colonic tissue samples (biopsies) from 62 patients with IBS and 31 healthy volunteers (controls).
Nineteen of the 62 IBS patients (31 percent) proved to have Brachyspira in their gut, but the bacterium was not found in any samples from the healthy volunteers. Brachyspira was particularly common in IBS patients with diarrhea.
The study suggests that the bacterium may be found in about a third of individuals with IBS.
“We want to see whether this can be confirmed in a larger study, and we’re also going to investigate whether, and how, Brachyspira causes symptoms in IBS,” the study authors wrote.
‘Our findings may open up completely new opportunities for treating and perhaps even curing some IBS patients, especially those who have diarrhea,” they noted. (IANS)