Pruritogenic mechanisms and gut sensation: putting the "irritant" into irritable bowel syndrome

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Chronic abdominal pain is a common clinical condition experienced by patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). A general lack of suitable treatment options for the management of visceral pain is the major contributing factor to the debilitating nature of the disease. Understanding the underlying causes of chronic visceral pain is pivotal to identifying new effective therapies for IBS. This review provides the current evidence, demonstrating that mediators and receptors that induce itch in the skin also act as "gut irritants" in the gastrointestinal tract. Activation of these receptors triggers specific changes in the neuronal excitability of sensory pathways responsible for the transmission of nociceptive information from the periphery to the central nervous system leading to visceral hypersensitivity and visceral pain. Accumulating evidence points to significant roles of irritant mediators and their receptors in visceral hypersensitivity and thus constitutes potential targets for the development of more effective therapeutic options for IBS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)G1131-G1141
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican journal of physiology. Gastrointestinal and liver physiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021


  • GPCRs
  • histamine
  • itch
  • proteases
  • visceral hypersensitivity


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