Does DNA Influence Gut Health?

About 10-15% Americans struggle from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), making it the most common disorder diagnosed by gastroenterologists. While there are many lifestyle choices and dietary habits that play important roles in the development of IBS, scientists are now discovering that genetics are a factor, as well.

“These results are very exciting and warrant follow-up studies: once more stool frequency genes are unequivocally identified, we may have a battery of new drug targets to be exploited for the treatment of constipation, diarrhoea and common dysmotility syndromes like IBS,” said Mauro D’Amato, PhD, a research professor at CIC nioGUNE in Spain and coordinator of the team of researchers.

Using data from 167,875 people in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, and the United States, researchers found a common genetic denominator that tied stool frequency to the development of IBS.

The researchers gave each genetic finding a numerical value. The numerical value, called a polygenic score, gives the likelihood of having altered stool. The data found that a high polygenic score indicated a 5-time increase in IBS with diarrhea than the remainder of the population.

“The genetic information and the polygenic scores obtained in this study can be refined and eventually contribute to the classification of patients into different treatment groups, hopefully leading to improved therapeutic precision when aiming to bring gut dysmotility and altered bowel habits back to normal,” Dr. D’Amato said.

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