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  1. Abstract

    Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the most prevalent disorder of brain-gut interactions that affects between 5 and 10% of the general population worldwide. The current symptom criteria restrict the diagnosis to recurrent abdominal pain associated with altered bowel habits, but the majority of patients also report non-painful abdominal discomfort, associated psychiatric conditions (anxiety and depression), as well as other visceral and somatic pain-related symptoms. For decades, IBS was considered an intestinal motility disorder, and more recently a gut disorder. However, based on an extensive body of reported information about central, peripheral mechanisms and genetic factors involved in the pathophysiology of IBS symptoms, a comprehensive disease model of brain-gut-microbiome interactions has emerged, which can explain altered bowel habits, chronic abdominal pain, and psychiatric comorbidities. In this review, we will first describe novel insights into several key components of brain-gut microbiome interactions, starting with reported alterations in the gut connectome and enteric nervous system, and a list of distinct functional and structural brain signatures, and comparing them to the proposed brain alterations in anxiety disorders. We will then point out the emerging correlations between the brain networks with the genomic, gastrointestinal, immune, and gut microbiome-related parameters. We will incorporate this new information into a systems-based disease model of IBS. Finally, we will discuss the implications of such a model for the improved understanding of the disorder and the development of more effective treatment approaches in the future.

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  2. Abstract

    We introduce and study a class of optimization problems we call replenishment problems with fixed turnover times: a very natural model that has received little attention in the literature. Clients with capacity for storing a certain commodity are located at various places; at each client the commodity depletes within a certain time, the turnover time, which is constant but can vary between locations. Clients should never run empty. The natural feature that makes this problem interesting is that we may schedule a replenishment (well) before a client becomes empty, but then the next replenishment will be due earlier also. This added workload needs to be balanced against the cost of routing vehicles to do the replenishments. In this paper, we focus on the aspect of minimizing routing costs. However, the framework of recurring tasks, in which the next job of a task must be done within a fixed amount of time after the previous one is much more general and gives an adequate model for many practical situations. Note that our problem has an infinite time horizon. However, it can be fully characterized by a compact input, containing only the location of each client and a turnover time. This makes determining its computational complexity highly challenging and indeed it remains essentially unresolved. We study the problem for two objectives:minavg  minimizes the average tour cost andminmax  minimizes the maximum tour cost over all days. Forminmax  we derive a logarithmic factor approximation for the problem on general metrics and a 6-approximation for the problem on trees, for which we have a proof of NP-hardness. Forminavg  we present a logarithmic factor approximation on general metrics, a 2-approximation for trees, and a pseudopolynomial time algorithm for the line. Many intriguing problems remain open.

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  3. Abstract

    Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder of brain-gut interactions characterized by chronic abdominal pain, altered bowel movements, often accompanied by somatic and psychiatric comorbidities. We aimed to test the hypothesis that a baseline phenotype composed of multi-modal neuroimaging and clinical features predicts clinical improvement on the IBS Symptom Severity Scale (IBS-SSS) at 3 and 12 months without any targeted intervention. Female participants (N = 60) were identified as “improvers” (50-point decrease on IBS-SSS from baseline) or “non-improvers.” Data integration analysis using latent components (DIABLO) was applied to a training and test dataset to determine whether a limited number of sets of multiple correlated baseline’omics data types, including brain morphometry, anatomical connectivity, resting-state functional connectivity, and clinical features could accurately predict improver status. The derived predictive models predicted improvement status at 3-months and 12-months with 91% and 83% accuracy, respectively. Across both time points, non-improvers were classified as having greater correlated morphometry, anatomical connectivity and resting-state functional connectivity characteristics within salience and sensorimotor networks associated with greater pain unpleasantness, but lower default mode network integrity and connectivity. This suggests that non-improvers have a greater engagement of attentional systems to perseverate on painful visceral stimuli, predicting IBS exacerbation. The ability of baseline multimodal brain-clinical signatures to predict symptom trajectories may have implications in guiding integrative treatment in the age of precision medicine, such as treatments targeted at changing attentional systems such as mindfulness or cognitive behavioral therapy.

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  4. Abstract

    Despite recent advances, there is still a major need to better understand the interactions between brain function and chronic gut inflammation and its clinical implications. Alterations in executive function have previously been identified in several chronic inflammatory conditions, including inflammatory bowel diseases. Inflammation-associated brain alterations can be captured by connectome analysis. Here, we used the resting-state fMRI data from 222 participants comprising three groups (ulcerative colitis (UC), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and healthy controls (HC),N = 74 each) to investigate the alterations in functional brain wiring and cortical stability in UC compared to the two control groups and identify possible correlations of these alterations with clinical parameters. Globally, UC participants showed increased functional connectivity and decreased modularity compared to IBS and HC groups. Regionally, UC showed decreased eigenvector centrality in the executive control network (UC < IBS < HC) and increased eigenvector centrality in the visual network (UC > IBS > HC). UC also showed increased connectivity in dorsal attention, somatomotor network, and visual networks, and these enhanced subnetwork connectivities were able to distinguish UC participants from HCs and IBS with high accuracy. Dynamic functional connectome analysis revealed that UC showed enhanced cortical stability in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), which correlated with severe depression and anxiety-related measures. None of the observed brain changes were correlated with disease duration. Together, these findings are consistent with compromised functioning of networks involved in executive function and sensory integration in UC.

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  5. null (Ed.)