Epithelial cells in the gut continue to be active in mice even after an irritant or infection clears, which may be the source of chronic gut pain associated with irritable bowel syndrome

Health



6 May 2022

All moral rights asserted. Recolouring or alteration of the image is prohibited without permission. Light micrograph of a section through a duodenum, the beginning of the small intestine, which runs from the stomach to the large intestine. It is where digestion begins and nutrients are absorbed into the blood. The interior (lumen, left) is lined with villi, which are folds in the intestinal surface that greatly increase the surface area for absorption. Also within the surface are crypts of Lieberkuhn (red-lined ovoids), which secrete enzymes into the lumen that help to digest the food. Underlying this layer is the muscularis mucosae (thin violet line) and connective tissue (blue). Across bottom are layers of smooth muscle and then circular and longitudinal muscles that contract and relax to move food through the duodenum. Magnification: x100 when printed at 15 centimetres wide.

A light micrograph image of a section of the small intestine

EYE OF SCIENCE/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

The chronic gut pain people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) experience may be due to long-lasting activation of rare gut cells. In mice, these cells continue to react to irritants even after the substances have left the gut.

IBS affects up to 15 per cent of the US population and is two to six times more common in women than men. The condition is characterised by symptoms like bloating, abdominal pain and hypersensitivity to certain foods and irritants, despite …



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