Gastric reflux affects as many as one in five people in Western countries and is on the increase in Asia. Diet and lifestyle, as well as genetic and hormonal issues, are commonly considered to be major causes of gastric reflux.
In laboratory studies, researchers have identified the nerve pathways in the spinal cord that transmit pain signals associated with gastric reflux to the brain.
"This is the first time anyone has shown the pain pathways in the spinal cord that receive direct input from acid-sensitive nerve endings in the esophagus," says Dr Andrea Harrington, an Australian Research Council (ARC) DECRA Research Fellow in the University's Nerve-Gut Laboratory.
"This is important because we know that the esophageal nerves undergo changes in gastric reflux patients that make them overly sensitive to acid. There is also evidence to suggest that the whole circuitry becomes abnormally sensitive in these patients, resulting in ongoing pain responses in the absence of actual acid reflux. Our research will enable us to identify such mechanisms," she says.
Dr Harrington says it's important to better understand how we detect and perceive pain from gastric reflux.
"Being able to know exactly how pain pathways connect to the brain will give us new insights, which in the years ahead could lead to improved treatment," she says.
Dr Harrington says most current treatments focus on reducing the amount of acid in the stomach.
"However, we think it's a much more complex issue than that. There might come a time when treatments are able to both address the amount of acid in the stomach while correcting the sensitivity of nerve endings. This would go a long way to providing more balanced relief to suffers of gastric reflux."
The next step in this research is to find out how the pain pathways are changed in reflux sufferers.
The results of Dr Harrington's work have been published in this month's journal Neurogastroenterology & Motility.
The research has been funded by the ARC and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
Media contact:Dr Andrea Harrington
Dr. Andrea Harrington | EurekAlert!
Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution
09.12.2016 | Veterans Affairs Research Communications
Oxygen can wake up dormant bacteria for antibiotic attacks
08.12.2016 | Penn State
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
09.12.2016 | Life Sciences
09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine