Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) mediates stress responses in the brain-gut axis. Administration of CRH modulates brain activation, for example by controlling the autonomic nervous system in response to colorectal distention. Here, we investigated the relationship between sympathoadrenal and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) responses to colorectal distention in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). We enrolled 32 patients with IBS (16 women and 16 men) and 32 healthy subjects (16 women and 16 men), and randomly divided them between CRH and saline injection groups. The patients randomly underwent no (0 mmHg), mild (20 mmHg), or strong (40 mmHg) colorectal distension. CRH (2 μg/kg) or saline was then administered via injection, and the distention protocol was repeated. The heart rate (HR) and HR variability (HRV; calculated as the low [LF] to high frequency [HF] peak ratio, LF/HF) were analyzed using electrocardiography. Plasma noradrenaline, adrenaline, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), and cortisol levels were measured at the time of each distention. Plasma adrenaline levels were shown to be associated with plasma ACTH levels in HCs injected with CRH during distention using structural equation modeling analysis. Patients with IBS injected with placebo during distention displayed a closer association between these two parameters than those injected with CRH. Generalized estimating equation analysis revealed a significant distention × group × drug interaction for HF power. Moreover, there was a strong correlation between adrenaline and HRV upon CRH injection in controls, but not patients with IBS. The relationship between HPA-sympathoadrenal responses and CRH levels during colorectal distention differs between patients with IBS and controls. Modulation of adrenal gland activity in response to ACTH stimulation may contribute to the brain-gut pathophysiology characteristic of IBS.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)