Is There a Way to Prove Which Dietary Factors Trigger Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

In a recent study (A Fritscher-Ravens et al. Gastroenterol 2019; 157: 109-18) uses confocal laser endomicroscopy (CLE) for “real-time detection and quantification of changes in intestinal tissues” related to food challenges. The authors previously had used this technique in a feasibility study (Gastroenterol 2014; 147: 1012-20). In this study, two-thirds of patients with CLE+ IBS showed improvement of IBS symptoms after a 12-month exclusion diet.

In the current study, the authors prospectively examined patients (n=108 completed study) who had irritable bowel syndrome and were convinced that this was triggered by foods (with negative IgE food allergy testing).  The CLE testing evaluated four food components

Key findings:

  • 76 of 108 (70%) had abnormal CLE; 46 of these reactions were to wheat
  • In those with CLE+ reactions, intraepithelial lymphocytes were significantly higher compared to those with CLE-negative (normal evaluations).
  • Other biomarkers associated with CLE+ included increased claudin-2 expression from crypt to villous tip, lower levels of occludin, and higher eosinophilic cationic protein.

Abnormal CLE indicated abnormal mucosal appearance including formation of epithelial leaks/gaps and widening of the intervillous spaces after food challenge.

My take: This study shows that in individuals with a strong suspicion of food-triggered IBS, immediate reactions in the mucosa can be detected with CLE in more than 50%. Whether this type of approach could/should be developed for wider use in targeting a specific diet is unclear.  More studies are needed.

Related blog posts:

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

 

 

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