Stress is a known trigger for flares of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS); however, this process is not well understood. Here, we find that restraint stress in mice leads to signs of diarrhea, fecal dysbiosis, and a barrier defect via the opening of goblet-cell associated passages. Notably, stress increases host immunity to gut bacteria as assessed by immunoglobulin A (IgA)-bound gut bacteria. Stress-induced microbial changes are necessary and sufficient to elicit these effects. Moreover, similar to mice, many diarrhea-predominant IBS (IBS-D) patients from two cohorts display increased antibacterial immunity as assessed by IgA-bound fecal bacteria. This antibacterial IgA response in IBS-D correlates with somatic symptom severity and was distinct from healthy controls or IBD patients. These findings suggest that stress may play an important role in patients with IgA-associated IBS-D by disrupting the intestinal microbial community that alters gastrointestinal function and host immunity to commensal bacteria.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100124
JournalCell Reports Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 20 2020


  • IgA
  • host:commensal immunity
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • stress


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