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!
Nanoparticles as a Solution against Antibiotic Resistance?
15.12.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
Plasmonic biosensors enable development of new easy-to-use health tests
14.12.2017 | Aalto University
DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.
Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...
MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences
15.12.2017 | Life Sciences