The association between Ehlers-Danlos syndrome—hypermobility type and gastrointestinal symptoms in university students: a cross-sectional study

Authors

  • A. Fikree,

    1. Wingate Institute of Neurogastroenterology, Centre for Neuroscience and Trauma, Bizard Institute, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK
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  • R. Aktar,

    1. Wingate Institute of Neurogastroenterology, Centre for Neuroscience and Trauma, Bizard Institute, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK
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  • J. K. Morris,

    1. Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK
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  • R. Grahame,

    1. Centre for Rheumatology Research, University College London, London, UK
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  • C. H. Knowles,

    1. Wingate Institute of Neurogastroenterology, Centre for Neuroscience and Trauma, Bizard Institute, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK
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  • Q. Aziz

    Corresponding author
    1. Wingate Institute of Neurogastroenterology, Centre for Neuroscience and Trauma, Bizard Institute, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK
    • Correspondence

      Professor Qasim Aziz,

      Wingate Institute of Neurogastroenterology, Centre for Neuroscience and Trauma, Bizard Institute, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK.

      Email: q.aziz@qmul.ac.uk

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Abstract

Background

Patients with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome—hypermobility type (EDS-HT) have increased prevalence of gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, particularly reflux and dyspepsia. EDS-HT is associated with dysautonomia, psychopathology, and chronic pain which can be associated with GI symptoms. The association between GI symptoms and EDS-HT in a ‘non-patient’ population and the effect of the above-mentioned factors has never been studied.

Methods

In a cross sectional study, a hypermobility questionnaire was used to screen university students; further clinical examination established the diagnosis of EDS-HT. Validated questionnaires assessed for GI, somatic, pain and autonomic symptoms, psychopathology and quality of life (QOL). These were compared in students with and without EDS-HT; logistic regression analysis examined associations between EDS-HT, GI symptoms and other variables.

Key Results

Of 1998 students screened, 162 were included: 74 EDS-HT (21.0 years, 53% female) vs 88 Non-EDS-HT (21.5 years, 65% female). Compared to non-EDS-HT students, EDS-HT students were more likely to have multiple GI symptoms (41.9% vs 27.3% P=.05), particularly postprandial fullness (34.4% vs 15.9%, P=.01) and early satiety (32% vs 17%, P=.03), greater autonomic (P<.001) and somatic symptoms (P=.04) but not psychopathology (P>.8). The association between EDS-HT and postprandial symptoms was dependent on autonomic factors but independent of pain and psychopathology. Pain-related QOL scores were reduced in the EDS-HT group (80 vs 90, P=.03).

Conclusions and Inferences

The previously described association between EDS-HT, dyspepsia, pain and autonomic symptoms in patients is also present in non-patient groups. Future studies are necessary to explore the etiological role of connective tissue in GI and extra intestinal symptoms.

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