Anorexia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and Chronic Fatigue Share a Common Cause

APRIL 25, 2016
Amy Jacob
Anorexia nervosa, chronic fatigue syndrome, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) might not be the typical threesome, but these three conditions do share a common origin.
 
According to new research, all three disorders could be caused by the creation of antibodies to the body’s own nerve cells from an immune system mistake after infection.
 
In a new study published in Medical Hypotheses, Jim Morris, MD, University of Hospitals, Morecambe Bay NHS Trust, and Sue Broughton, MD, and Quenton Wessels, MD, from Lancaster University, wrote current explanations are unsatisfactory.
 
Interestingly, research already discovered that women were at an increased risk of autoimmune diseases in which antibodies to the body’s own cells play an integral role, such as thyroid disease, pernicious anemia, and myasthenia gravis.
 
“The female to male ratio in these conditions is of the order of 10. The female excess in IBS, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Anorexia Nervosa is equally extreme and therefore this fits with the idea that auto-antibodies to nerve cells could be part of the pathogenesis of these conditions, “ said the authors.
 
The studies often find that the formation of antibodies in women increases with age, which could be why these disorders are more common midlife.
 
Additionally, there are links with infection – the onset of IBS typically follows an episode of infectious diarrhea while chronic fatigue syndrome can be triggered by infectious mononucleosis and viral hepatitis.
 
According to the experts, autoantibodies acting on the brain’s limbic system could induce extremes of emotion including disgust and fear.
 
As such, further research and targeting the gut bacteria that are triggering autoantibodies could help treat patients suffering from the three disorders with pooled immunoglobulin from healthy people’s blood. 


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