Gastrointestinal system

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(Redirected from Digestive system)

The gastrointestinal system is an organ system which takes in food, digests it to extract and absorb energy and nutrients, and expels the remaining waste as feces. It consists of the esophagus, stomach, and intestines, and is divided into the upper and lower gastrointestinal tracts.

Autonomic nervous system dysfunction of the gut, dysmotility, dysbiosis, and potentially, gut pathogens, are all thought to contribute to the symptoms of ME.

Evidence of gastrointestinal dysfunction in CFS[edit | edit source]

Dysbiosis[edit | edit source]

There is strong evidence that dysbiosis or an imbalance in the microbial ecology of the gut plays a role in the symptoms of ME/CFS. On average, ME/CFS patients have lower levels of Bifidobacteria, Escherichia coli and higher levels of aerobic bacteria,[1] in particular Enterococcus and Streptococcus species.[2] The latter produce D-lactate, a form of lactic acid only produced by non-human cells that is poorly metabolized in humans. D lactate is associated with a wide variety of cognitive and neurological symptoms, such as in patients who suffer from D-lactic acidosis. A study found that higher levels of enterococcus bacteria in CFS patients were associated with more severe neurological and cognitive dysfunction.[3]

CFS patients may suffer from small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).[1]

One hypothesized consequence of dysobiosis is an overproduction of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) by pathogenic bacteria. H2S can inhibit mitochondrial respiration by blocking cytochrome c oxidase.[citation needed]

A study of Norwegian and Belgian patients found significantly decreased proportions of Firmicutes genera Holdemania and increased proportions of Bacteroidetes genera Alistipes in the Norwegian but not the Belgian sample. Significantly increased proportions of Firmicutes genera Lactonifactor were found in both.[4]

Intestinal permeability[edit | edit source]

In a healthy digestive tract, the intestinal walls provide a tight, selective barrier to allow the absorption of nutrients prevent the entry of bacteria or pathogens. However, in CFS patients, there is evidence of increased intestinal permeability or "leaky gut." Intestinal permeability can allow for the translocation of bacteria across the mucosal lining and inside the blood stream.

One study found higher levels of serum IgA and IgM against lipopolysaccharides (LPS), a major component of the outer membrane of gram-negative bacteria, indicating translocation.[5] Serum IgA was significantly correlated to the severity of illness.

Malabsorption[edit | edit source]

CFS patients may have malabsorption of micronutrients. Lactic acid bacteria have therapeutic potential in malabsorption of micronutrients by supporting the intestinal epithelial barrier.[1]

Learn more[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]