Dr. Mauro D’Amato – Biodonostia. Ikerbasque Research Professor.

An international research team led by Ikerbasque researcher Mauro D’Amato of the Osakidetza Biodonostia Health Research Institute has identified new causes of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It has found a specific correlation between genetic factors, carbohydrate consumption and microbiota and the risk of suffering from this disorder.

Irritable bowel syndrome is the most common gastrointestinal disorder. More than 10% of the population suffer from recurring symptoms including abdominal pain, gas, diarrhoea and constipation. While the predisposing factors of IBS remain largely unknown, there is a suggested link with diet, genetic factors, and changes in the intestinal microbiota, among others. An international research team led by Ikerbasque Professor Mauro D’Amato from Biodonostia, has discovered interactions between the genetic polymorphisms in the Sucrase-isomaltase (SI) gene, carbohydrate consumption, the composition of intestinal microbiota and their effects on the risk of IBS.

The SI gene encodes an intestinal enzyme (disaccharidase) that is important in humans for or the digestion of disaccharides (such as table sugar) and 60% of food starch. Mauro D’Amato’s group had previously demonstrated that defective variants of SI, corresponding to lower enzyme activity and a lower level of digestion of carbohydrates, are more common among cases involving IBS than in other types of studies. They are now demonstrating how the role of these variants in IBS becomes more evident when taking into account the amount of carbohydrates consumed, linking this SI-carb interaction with the microbiota intestinal profiles that are most often found in patients with IBS.

The results of this research, together with those attained in previous research conducted by this group, represent a breakthrough thanks to how it may allow the stratification of patients and the identification of sub-groups for specific diseases in IBS. They also provide a rationale for new nutrigenetic studies on IBS, with the option of tailoring the treatment options (including dietary intervention) depending on the SI genotype.

The study has been published in the scientific journal GUT as a result of the collaboration of scientists in international institutions such as IIS Biodonostia, Osakidetza, the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, and the Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology in Kiel, Germany.

Mauro D’Amato is an expert in genetics and personalised medicine, and is working with Biodonostia through the Ikerbasque Professor Research programme, the Basque Scientific Foundation. He is the head of the new Gastrointestinal Genetics Research Group (belonging to the Gastrointestinal and Liver Diseases Research Area led by Doctor and Professor from the UPV/EHU, Luis Bujanda) of Biodonostia/OSI Donostialdea.

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