Background: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional gastrointestinal disorder involving changes in normal bowel movements. The pathophysiology of IBS is not clearly understood owing to the lack of identifiable pathological abnormalities and reliable biomarkers. Aim: The aim of this study was to discover the novel and reliable biomarker for IBS. Method: In this study, neonatal maternal separation (NMS) stress model was used for the IBS mouse model. Further assessment was conducted with whole gastrointestinal transit test, quantitative RT-PCR, histological examination, and western blot. Results: Male pups developed symptoms similar to those of human IBS with diarrhea (IBS-D), such as low-grade inflammation, stool irregularity, and increased bowel motility. NMS stress influenced to the interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC) and induced altered bowel motility, resulting in IBS-D-like symptoms. In addition, we found neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) to be a novel biomarker for ICC under NMS stress. nNOS expression was only observed in the ICC of the submucosal plexus of IBS-D mice, and the inhibition of nNOS changed the phenotype from IBS-D to IBS with constipation. Conclusion: Our study demonstrates that early-life stress can influence to ICC and modulate bowel activity and that nNOS might be used as a biomarker for ICC stimulation in IBS.
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