New research has found that psychological stress aggravates intestinal inflammation and causes physical discomfort known as Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The study focuses on the causes beginning in chemical signals produced in the brain and ending in immune cells in the gut.
The research, published in Celldistances itself from “conventional medical treatment” which according to Christoph Thaissco-author of the study and a microbiologist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, “completely neglected mental state patient as an important factor in treatment response.
There are two main types of inflammatory bowel disease ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, which are mild in some people but can be debilitating and even fatal in others. Some of the symptoms that people with these pathologies show are abdominal pain, diarrhea and fatigue, among others.
The gut-brain connection
Events of tension, anxiety or distress, such as losing a job or taking a break, often precede the onset of this pathology. This is because after a a rush of stressthe brain sends signals to the adrenal glands, which release chemicals called glucocorticoids to the rest of the body, as Thaiss and other authors were able to verify.
Initially, researchers were concerned with the idea that glucocorticoids worked directly to immune cells, which respond by releasing molecules that cause inflammation. “But it turns out that there is a kind of middle layer,” Thaiss explains. Working in mice, they found that glucocorticoids act on neurons in the gut and on cells called glia that connect neurons in the gut to each other.
The researchers verified that when activated by glucocorticoids, some glial cells released molecules that activated immune cells. At the same time, these immune cells were also releasing molecules that would normally be used to fight pathogens, but in this case end up causing painful inflammation of the intestines.
At the same time, the investigators found that glucocorticoids blocked full development of immature enteric neurons. As a result, these neurons produced only low levels of the signaling molecules that cause the intestinal muscles to contract. This means that food moves slowly through the digestive system, which contributes to discomfort inflammatory bowel disease.
A surprise for the authors was the finding that glucocorticoids cause intestinal inflammation because these compounds sometimes used to treat IBD. This could be explained by the short time period in which these treatments are used, they explain.
Although rapid bursts of glucocorticoids appear to be anti-inflammatory when stress occurs chronic“the system completely changes” and glucocorticoids take over the role proinflammatorysays Thais. It’s a “plausible explanation,” reveals the gastroenterologist and immunologist John Chang, from the University of California, San Diego.
Manage stress to relieve symptoms
According to Thaiss, the brain’s ability to control inflammation in distant organs “seems much more powerful” than originally thought. This suggests that IBD drugs in combination with stress management techniquesmay be more effective than drugs alone.
Molecules in the brain-to-gut signaling pathway could also be targeted new drug treatments“an exciting possibility,” says Chang.
Furthermore, the implications of this work could extend beyond IBD. Stress is also thought to increase inflammatory diseases of the skin and lungs, possibly through similar signaling pathways.
In the future, Thaiss intends to investigate whether brain conditions other than stress affect the overall health of a person. “There is certainly much more to learn about the brain and how the brain controls seemingly unrelated aspects of physiology and disease.”
The information published in Redacción Médica contains affirmations, data and statements of official institutions and medical professionals. However, if you have any questions about your health, please consult your appropriate health care professional.
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