An association between the gut and the brain in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) has been found, say researchers who established that it could be triggered by a traumatic childhood.
The results suggest that signals generated by the brain regions – involved in the processing of sensory information from their bodies – can influence the composition of microbes residing in the intestine and that the chemicals in the gut can shape the human brain's structure.
"Signals from the gut microbes shape the way the sensory system develops," Emeran Mayer from the University of California – Los Angeles, was quoted as saying by Newsweek.
"A lot of influences start during pregnancy and go on for the first three years of life. That's the programming of the gut microbiome-brain axis," Mayer noted.
A history of early life trauma has been shown to be associated with structural and functional brain changes and to alter gut microbial composition.
It is also possible that the signals the gut and its microbes get from the brain of an individual with a history of childhood trauma may lead to lifelong changes in the gut microbiome.
These alterations in the gut microbiota may feed back into sensory brain regions, altering the sensitivity to gut stimuli – a hallmark of people with IBS, the researchers said.
For the study, published in the journal Microbiome, the team collected behavioural information, stool samples and brain images of 29 adults with IBS and 23 healthy people as controls.
The research also suggests that the treatments for IBS should be tailored by gut flora test results.