What causes fatigue in IBD?


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We currently know very little about the causes of fatigue in people with IBD, and as a result we’re lacking good treatment options. This study aims to change that and has the potential to improve the quality of life of those living with IBD.

Dr Gordon Moran
University of Nottingham

What is this research looking at?

Fatigue severely impacts the quality of life and well-being of people with Inflammatory Bowel Disease. It affects up to 8 in 10 people with IBD during active disease and up to 4 in 10 people when in remission. Although very common, there has been little research into fatigue in IBD, and diagnosis and treatment options remain poor.

Much of our knowledge of fatigue comes from studying it in other chronic conditions. From this we know that fatigue has two main categories and drivers – central fatigue driven by the brain, and peripheral fatigue driven by the muscles. Central fatigue is thought to be the result of reduced heart and lung fitness, which leads to a decreased blood supply to the brain. Peripheral fatigue is thought to result from reduced muscle mass and function.

This study aims to unravel the major causes of fatigue in IBD. The study will involve people with Crohn’s who do not have active disease, and the researchers will compare those experiencing fatigue to those who are not experiencing fatigue. There will be a third group of healthy volunteers to act as controls.

The researchers will assess peripheral fatigue by measuring muscle fitness and strength during exercise, as well as muscle recovery after exercise. They will assess central fatigue by measuring blood flow in the heart and brain of participants before, during and after exercise.

What do the researchers think this could mean for people with IBD?

Understanding what is happening in the brain, heart, lungs and muscle of those experiencing fatigue could help to develop treatments that actually target the causes of fatigue in people with IBD. This would improve the quality of life of people with IBD, and increase the socioeconomic contribution that people with IBD provide to the UK.

Who is leading the research: Dr Gordon Moran, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust and the University of Nottingham

Award amount: £118,379 (£37,935 Year 1 funded by the charity forCrohns)

Duration: 36 months

Official title of the application: Non-invasive approaches to identify the cause of fatigue in Inflammatory Bowel Disease patients

Tags: Fatigue, exercise