An observational study of cognitive function in patients with irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease.
Berrill JW., Gallacher J., Hood K., Green JT., Matthews SB., Campbell AK., Smith A.
BACKGROUND: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are associated with several risk factors for developing cognitive impairment. These include altered cytokine levels, concurrent mood disorders, and the presence of chronic pain. This observational study aimed to explore the cognitive profile of patients with these conditions. METHODS: Participants completed the Cardiff Cognitive Battery, a series of computerized neuropsychological performance tests that examine a range of cognitive function including psychomotor speed, memory, and intelligence. A progressive analysis of covariance model was used with demographic details, anxiety and depression scores entered as covariates. Fecal calprotectin levels were measured in IBD patients to determine disease activity. KEY RESULTS: In total 231 participants were recruited (150 IBD patients, 40 IBS patients, and 41 healthy controls). IBD patients had significantly lower scores on fluid (p = 0.01) and crystalline intelligence tests (p = 0.028) compared to healthy volunteers, however, this reflected differences in concurrent mood disorder and level of education. When these factors were added as covariates, there was no significant difference between the groups. Duration and activity of disease did not affect cognitive function in IBD patients. Severity of symptoms had no impact on cognition in patients with IBS. CONCLUSIONS & INFERENCES: The results of this observational study do not support the hypothesis that IBS or IBD have an intrinsic disease process that is associated with cognitive dysfunction. It is possible that concurrent mood disorders, in particular depression, may affect the cognitive performance of patients with IBD in specific tasks.