Washington: Australian researchers have recently discovered that exhaustion of the immune system is linked to a specific type of an intestinal disorder causing pain in the stomach, wind, diarrhea and constipation. The study was led by Dr Patrick Hughes from the University of Adelaide in South Australia.
Researchers focused on a small sample of patients with various types of irritable bowel disease. For the first time, the team followed them for a year comparing blood samples when patients experienced symptoms to when they were symptom free.
All the patients with diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-D) were found to have the same kind of exhaustion in their T-cells. “For the first time, we’ve discovered that in patients with irritable bowel syndrome associated with diarrhea, their T-cells seem to be ‘out of puff’ or run down,” said Dr Hughes. “These normally active immune cells are less responsive to stimulation, secreting fewer mediators and dividing less. This type of response is often observed in chronic infections,” Dr Hughes added.
This may eventually help us to better understand how to diagnose and treat the disease. Dr Hughes noted that there is much research into IBS to show its links with stress, and it is known that cortisol and stress hormones can inhibit the immune system.
But until now, such T-cell exhaustion had not been described in IBS-D patients. “Irritable bowel syndrome takes a real toll on patients,” Dr Hughes stated. It can affect people in the prime of their lives, it’s a chronic disease that can last a long time, and the treatments currently available are poor, the researchers concluded. The study is published in the journal of Gut.