Unexplained dyspeptic symptoms are associated with changes in gastric sensorimotor function and several psychopathologic dimensions, including anxiety.
It is unclear whether this reflects common predisposition or a causal relationship.
Dr Jan Tack and colleagues investigated if experimentally induced anxiety would alter gastric sensorimotor function in health.
The research team reported that 14 subjects underwent a gastric barostat study to assess gastric sensitivity and accommodation.
A further 18 subjects underwent a 10-minute satiety drinking test of 30 mL/min.
|Meal-induced relaxation was inhibited during the anxiety condition|
The team registered epigastric symptoms on a visual analogue scale at 2-minute intervals.
Emotional context was modulated for 10 minutes at the start of each experiment.
The researchers used combined projection of validated facial expressions and an audiotape recalling a neutral or an anxious autobiographical experience.
Anxiety levels were assessed using a visual analogue scale and the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory.
Visual analogue scale and Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory scores confirmed efficacy of anxiety induction.
The researchers found that during the anxiety condition, gastric compliance was significantly decreased.
Intraballoon pressures inducing discomfort during gastric distention were not altered, but the corresponding volume was significantly lower.
The research team noted that meal-induced relaxation was inhibited during the anxiety condition and this persisted for the 60-minute measurement.
During the satiety drinking test, the team observed that anxiety condition was associated with significantly higher scores for satiety, fullness, and bloating.
Dr Tack's team commented, “Experimentally induced anxiety alters gastric sensorimotor function, suggesting that psychological factors may play a causal role in the pathogenesis of some dyspeptic symptoms and mechanisms.”