SCM recruits participants for clinical study on irritable bowel syndrome

6 June 2016


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common functional gastrointestinal disorders in clinical practice, with about 10-20%of the world’s population suffering from the disease.  According to a study conducted in the year 2000, the comorbidity of IBS other disorders in Hong Kong is approximately 7%.

The Rome Foundation announced new authoritative diagnostic criteria for functional gastrointestinal disorders at Digestive Disease Week 2016 held in US in May 2016.  The new Rome IV diagnostic criteria are expected to deeply influence the diagnosis and treatment of functional gastrointestinal disorders in the coming decade.  As a result of the release of the new diagnostic criteria, the Hong Kong Chinese Medicine Clinical Study Centre (CMCS) under SCM has embarked on a clinical study on IBS with more than 400 participants.  On the basis of the participants’ different symptoms, the research team will classify them in accordance with the Chinese medicine syndromes and IBS subtypes of Rome IV diagnostic criteria.  The study aims to study the distribution of IBS patterns and Chinese medicine syndromes, and compare the difference between Rome III and IV criteria.  In addition, the serum, urine and stool samples of the participants will be collected to explore the metabolic interactions of host-gut microbiota associated with IBS subtypes.

Professor Bian Zhaoxiang, Director of Clinical Division, SCM, and Director of CMCS who leads the research, said that the objective of the research is to identify the core correlation between IBS subtypes based on the latest Rome IV diagnostic criteria, Chinese medicine syndromes and host-gut microbiota, with a view to laying the foundation for future clinical studies on Chinese medicine treatments for IBS which aim to treat IBS by regulating intestinal microbiota with the use Chinese medicine.


According to the Chinese medicine theory of “treatment based on syndrome differentiation”, IBS will usually be classified into six main syndromes, namely spleen deficiency and dampness retention, liver depression and spleen deficiency, yang deficiency of spleen and kidney, dampness-heat of spleen and stomach, stagnation of liver qi, and dryness-heat of intestine.  According to the latest Rome IV diagnostic criteria, IBS can be classified into the following four patterns: diarrhea, constipation, mixed mode and no specific pattern.

This research will be the largest systematic study on the pattern of distribution of IBS subtypes and IBS Chinese medicine patterns to date.  While it has already been demonstrated that the host-gut microbiota in IBS patients are significantly different from those found in healthy individuals, it is still not known and there are different views as to which types of microbiota in IBS patients have been altered.  The research team looks forward to finding the answer to the question.