BACKGROUND: Enhanced colorectal sensitivity (i.e. visceral hypersensitivity) is thought to be a pathophysiological mechanism in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In healthy men a circadian variation in rectal perception to colonic distention was described. Disturbed day and night rhythms, which occur in shift work and trans meridian flights, are associated with the prevalence of IBS. This raises the question whether disruptions of circadian control are responsible for the observed pathology in IBS. Prior to investigating altered rhythmicity in relation to visceral hypersensitivity in a rat model for IBS, it is relevant to establish whether normal rats display circadian variation similar to healthy men.
METHODOLOGY AND FINDINGS: In rodents colorectal distension leads to reproducible contractions of abdominal musculature. We used quantification of this so called visceromotor response (VMR) by electromyography (EMG) to assess visceral sensitivity in rats. We assessed the VMR in normal male Long Evans rats at different time points of the light/dark cycle. Although a control experiment with male maternal separated rats confirmed that intentionally inflicted (i.e. stress induced) changes in VMR can be detected, normal male Long Evans rats showed no variation in VMR along the light/dark cycle in response to colorectal distension.
CONCLUSIONS: In the absence of a daily rhythm of colorectal sensitivity in normal control rats it is not possible to investigate possible aberrancies in our rat model for IBS.