Background: Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) acts mainly via the CRH receptor 1 (CRH-R1) and plays a crucial role in the stress-induced pathophysiology of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Several studies have demonstrated that variants of the CRH-R1 gene carry a potential risk for depression, but evidence for an association between CRH-R1 genotypes and IBS is lacking. We tested the hypothesis that genetic polymorphisms and haplotypes of CRH-R1 moderate the IBS phenotype and negative emotion in IBS patients. Methods: A total of 103 patients with IBS and 142 healthy controls participated in the study. Three single-nucleotide polymorphisms of the CRH-R1 gene (rs7209436, rs242924, and rs110402) were genotyped. Subjects' emotional states were evaluated using the Perceived-Stress Scale, the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, and the Self-rating Depression Scale. Results: The TT genotype of rs7209436 (P = 0.01) and rs242924 (P = 0.02) was significantly more common in patients with IBS than in controls. Total sample analysis showed significant association between bowel pattern (normal, diarrhea, constipation, or mixed symptoms) and the T allele of rs7209436 (P = 0.008), T allele of rs242924 (P = 0.019), A allele of rs110402 (P = 0.047), and TAT haplocopies (P = 0.048). Negative emotion was not associated with the examined CRH-R1 SNPs. Conclusion: These findings suggest that genetic polymorphisms and the CRH-R1 haplotypes moderate IBS and related bowel patterns. There was no clear association between CRH-R1 genotypes and negative emotion accompanying IBS. Further studies on the CRH system are therefore warranted.
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