A study has found the immune system is not working properly in people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which leads to pain.
The study involved specialised immune cell samples from part of the digestive system of 116 participants, where approximately half were healthy and half had IBS.
The results show that in healthy people, the immune cells normally secrete opioid chemicals, like morphine, that block pain. But in people with IBS, the opioid production by these cells is lower.
Dr Patrick Hughes’ research could help explain why some painkillers may not offer pain relief to people with IBS. The work could lead to more targeted treatments for IBS to help treat pain.