Applied Principles of Neurogastroenterology: Physiology/Motility Sensation
Enteric Nervous System
Many of the symptoms prominent in the functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs) are consistent with dysfunction of the sensory and/or motor apparatus of the digestive tract. Assessment of these phenomena in man can be undertaken by using a wide variety of invasive and noninvasive techniques, some well established and others requiring further validation. By using such techniques, alterations in both sensory and motor function have been reported in the FGIDs; various combinations of such dysfunction occur in different regions of the digestive tract in the FGIDs. Our understanding of the origins of this gut sensorimotor dysfunction is gradually increasing. Thus, inflammatory, immunologic, and other processes, as well as psychosocial factors such as stress, can alter the normal patterns of sensitivity and motility through alterations in local reflex activity or via altered neural processing along the brain-gut axis. In this context, a potential role of genetic factors, early-life influences, enteric flora, dietary components, and autonomic dysfunction also should be considered in the disease model. A firm relationship between sensorimotor dysfunction and the production of symptoms, however, has been difficult to show, and so the clinical relevance of the former requires continuing exploration. Based on the conceptual framework established to date, a number of recommendations for further progress can be made.