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Brain-Gut Interactions in Overweight and Normal Weight Patients With Chronic Abdominal Pain

This study is currently recruiting participants. (see Contacts and Locations)
Verified July 2016 by National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC)
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC) ( National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) ) Identifier:
First received: January 16, 2009
Last updated: August 31, 2016
Last verified: July 2016

About 15 to 20 percent of individuals living in the United States have chronic abdominal pain, often of unknown origin, which is often difficult to diagnose and treat. One possible cause of chronic abdominal pain is an inflammation of the intestines, but it is not known whether the two are related. Furthermore, although overweight people tend to be more likely to have increased inflammation, it is not known whether there is a connection between increased body weight and chronic abdominal pain. This study will examine the relationship between symptoms of chronic abdominal pain and intestinal inflammation by comparing the medical test results of normal weight and overweight patients who have a history of chronic abdominal pain.

This study will include 224 subjects, who must be men and women between the ages of 13 and 45. Half the subjects will be healthy participants, and half will have had chronic abdominal pain of unknown origin for longer than 6 months. Female participants must take a urine pregnancy test before starting the study, and will not be allowed to participate if the test is positive. During the study, patients will visit the NIH Clinical Center on two occasions for testing.

On the first visit, patients will provide a medical history, including information about current medications or natural remedies and tobacco and alcohol use, and will also fill out questionnaires to provide information about symptoms, current levels of gastrointestinal pain, and general quality of life. The study researchers will conduct a physical examination, measure patients height and weight, and draw blood for testing.

Patients will be asked to not eat or drink anything for 8 hours before the second visit, and will be asked to bring a bathing suit and a swim cap to the Clinical Center. On the day of the visit, patients will fill out questionnaires to provide information about symptoms, current levels of gastrointestinal pain, and general quality of life. Patients will also provide a blood sample for testing. Researchers will measure patients blood pressure and heart rate, height, weight, waist/hip circumference, and intra-abdominal measurement. Patients will also be asked to put on the bathing suit and swim cap to have their body fat measured using a machine called the BOD POD. To test the gastrointestinal system, patients will then be asked to drink a sugar-based test solution, and researchers will collect all voided urine for the next 5 to 6 hours. (Patients may drink water during this time.)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Study Type: Observational
Study Design: Time Perspective: Prospective
Official Title: Brain-Gut Interactions in Overweight and Normal Weight Patients With Chronic Abdominal Pain

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC):

Estimated Enrollment: 400
Study Start Date: January 2009
Detailed Description:

The objective of this natural history study is to assess the specific gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms and pathophysiology of chronic abdominal pain of unknown origin at the molecular level. This research will test the hypothesis that chronic abdominal pain of unknown etiology has an inflammatory mechanism. Although increased body weight may be associated with increased inflammation, it is unclear that increased body weight is associated with chronic abdominal pain. Accordingly both overweight and normal weight subjects with and without chronic abdominal pain of unknown origin will be included in this study. The study design is a longitudinal natural history.

The purpose is to test the relationship between abdominal pain symptoms and intestinal inflammation in two groups (overweight and normal weight patients with chronic abdominal pain of unknown origin). After obtaining informed consent, an initial screening history and physical exam to ensure eligibility will be performed. The participants abdominal pain, psychological distress, quality of life, socio-demographic, and co-morbidities will be assessed via questionnaires. Anthropometry, vital signs, and fasting blood work will be drawn at both of the two visits to the Clinical Center of the National Institutes of Health for clinical screening labs and research purposes.

There are three measures of intestinal inflammation including fecal calprotectin, intestinal permeability, and serum cytokine IL-6 levels. A stool sample will be collected to measure fecal calprotectin. Intestinal permeability will be measured with the administration of a sugar based test solution which will be given orally to participants after an overnight fast on their second visit. Excreted urine sugar ratios, expressed per m2 of body surface area, will measure gastrointestinal permeability. Body mass and body fat analysis (plethysmography), intra-abdominal and liver ultrasound, and Fibroscan measures will also be collected on visit two.


Ages Eligible for Study:   13 Years to 45 Years   (Child, Adult)
Genders Eligible for Study:   Both
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   Yes

To be included, patients must meet all of the following:

  • Have a history of abdominal pain for greater than 6 months
  • Males ages 13-45 years old or females ages 13-45 years old who have had their menses for at least 2 years
  • Provide written informed consent, prior to entering the study or undergoing any study procedures


Patients with any of the following will be excluded:

  • Have a history of an organic GI disease (e.g., inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, biliary disorders, bowel resection) cardiac, pulmonary, neurologic, renal, endocrine, or gynecological pathology
  • Are currently taking medications for GI symptoms daily such as 5-HT3 antagonists/5-HT4 agonists, prokinetic drugs, laxatives (but not fiber supplements), anti-diarrheals or antispasmodics
  • Are currently taking other medications daily that would alter serotonin (e.g., serotonin specific reuptake inhibitors [SSRI]), catecholamines (e.g., tricycle antidepressants but not inhaled beta-agonist for mild-moderate asthma), cortisol (excluding inhaled corticosteroids)
  • Work during the late evening and night (as cortisol levels may be altered)
  • Severe co-morbid pain or psychiatric conditions (e.g., fibromyalgia, bipolar or psychotic disorder)
  • Take greater than 300 mg of caffeine containing beverages or food (e.g. chocolate) in the afternoon-evening or greater than 2 servings of alcohol containing beverages everyday (decaffeinated coffee is acceptable)
  • Are unable to give informed consent
  • Are unable to physically use the touch screen for the purpose of the study
  • Are visually impaired or currently institutionalized
  • Females who are pregnant or lactating
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00824941

Contact: Sarah K Abey, Ph.D. (301) 443-4693
Contact: Wendy A Henderson, C.R.N.P. (301) 451-9534

United States, Maryland
National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, 9000 Rockville Pike Recruiting
Bethesda, Maryland, United States, 20892
Contact: For more information at the NIH Clinical Center contact Patient Recruitment and Public Liaison Office (PRPL)    800-411-1222 ext TTY8664111010   
Sponsors and Collaborators
National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR)
Principal Investigator: Wendy A Henderson, C.R.N.P. National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR)
  More Information

Additional Information:
Publications automatically indexed to this study by Identifier (NCT Number):
Responsible Party: National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) Identifier: NCT00824941     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: 090064  09-NR-0064 
Study First Received: January 16, 2009
Last Updated: August 31, 2016
Health Authority: United States: Federal Government

Keywords provided by National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC):
Abdominal Pain
Women's Health and Disease
Chronic Abdominal Pain

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Abdominal Pain
Body Weight
Signs and Symptoms
Colonic Diseases, Functional
Colonic Diseases
Intestinal Diseases
Gastrointestinal Diseases
Digestive System Diseases
Neurologic Manifestations
Nervous System Diseases
Signs and Symptoms, Digestive processed this record on December 09, 2016