Visceral Hypersensitivity

Zhou Q, Verne GN. New insights into visceral hypersensitivity–clinical implications in IBS. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2011 Jun;8(6):349-55.

Key points

  • Visceral and somatic hypersensitivity are present in some patients with functional gastrointestinal disorders
  • Injury to visceral afferents is the most common underlying cause of visceral hypersensitivity that is maintained by either peripheral and/or central nervous system mechanisms
  • Animal models of hypersensitivity have been used to examine the neural mechanisms of hypersensitivity following inflammatory injury, such as alterations in the N-methyl, D-aspartate receptor, dorsal horn neurons or c-Fos
  • Increased intestinal permeability might lead to hypersensitivity and abdominal pain in patients with functional gastrointestinal disorders
  • Functional gastrointestinal disorders are similar to other chronic pain disorders in which persistent nociceptive mechanisms are activated


Mertz H. Visceral hypersensitivity. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2003 Mar 1;17(5):623-33.

Free full-text.

Visceral hypersensitivity is highly prevalent in all functional bowel disorders. Most also demonstrate wider patterns of somatic referral of intestinal pain or discomfort. This hypersensitivity may explain the symptoms as the sensitive gut can be more easily provoked by normal or abnormal motor events in the gut. Visceral hypersensitivity may increase during psychosocial stress and during periods of symptom exacerbation, although this requires confirmation. Pharmacological therapy to reduce visceral hypersensitivity is now possible using antagonists to neurotransmitters, opening up an exciting new era for the treatment of functional gastrointestinal disorders.


More PubMed results on visceral hypersensitivity.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s