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Neither self-reported atopy nor IgE-mediated allergy are linked to gastrointestinal symptoms in patients with irritable bowel syndrome

Journal article
Authors Sanna Nybacka
Lena Öhman
Stine Störsrud
Mathilda Mybeck
Lena Böhn
Katarina Wilpart
Anna Winkvist
Ulf Bengtsson
Hans Törnblom
Magnus Simrén
Published in Neurogastroenterology and Motility
Volume 30
Issue 10
ISSN 1350-1925
Publication year 2018
Published at University of Gothenburg Centre for person-centred care (GPCC)
Institute of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine and Clinical Nutrition
Language en
Keywords atopic disease, IgE, irritable bowel syndrome, self-perceived food intolerance, activated mast-cells, quality-of-life, food hypersensitivity, clinical-significance, somatic symptoms, disorders, asthma, depression, proximity, correlate, Gastroenterology & Hepatology, Neurosciences & Neurology
Subject categories Internal medicine


BackgroundAmong patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), atopic disease has been proposed as a common comorbidity increasing the IBS symptom burden. We therefore assessed the prevalence of self-reported atopy among patients with IBS as compared to non-IBS controls, and whether atopy and higher serum IgE levels were associated with increased IBS symptom severity. MethodsLevels of total and specific IgE in serum were measured and questionnaires assessing the presence of atopic disease (ie, eczema, asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis, and pollen allergy), gastrointestinal symptom burden, food intolerance, somatic, and psychological symptoms were completed. Key resultsIn total, 223 patients with IBS and 47 controls participated. Presence of atopic disease was reported in 55% of patients with IBS compared to 40% of controls (P=.07). IBS patients with atopic manifestations (N=123) had higher total serum IgE levels (median 31 vs 16 kU(A)/L, P<.001) and higher prevalence of self-reported food intolerance (28% vs 9%, P=.002) than non-atopic IBS patients (N=100), respectively, but no major difference in gastrointestinal or psychological symptom burden was noted. However, severe somatic symptoms were more common among atopic than non-atopic patients with IBS (38% vs 27%, P=.028). We found no associations between self-reported atopy and IBS symptom severity using linear regression models. Conclusions & InferencesAtopic disease is common in patients with IBS, but that is also true for subjects without IBS. The presence of atopic disease in IBS is associated with self-reported food intolerance and somatic symptom severity, but unrelated to IBS symptom severity.

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