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Papers of the Week

2022 Apr 02

Neurogastroenterol Motil

The Clinical value of brain-gut behavioral therapies for functional esophageal disorders and symptoms.



Functional esophageal disorders (functional chest pain, functional heartburn, reflux hypersensitivity, globus, and functional dysphagia) are the disorders of gut-brain interactions (DGBI) and present with esophageal symptoms not associated with a structural, major motility or underlying inflammatory condition. Notably, many patients with the latter conditions may still experience esophageal symptoms beyond what could be attributed to their underlying disorders. Esophageal visceral hypersensitivity and hypervigilance are the two pathways which drive functional esophageal disorders and symptoms. These functional esophageal symptoms may be severe, leaving patients with impaired quality of life and inadequate treatment outcomes. Neuromodulators are the foundation of the pharmacologic approach of many of the functional esophageal disorders and symptoms, modulating both peripheral and central hyperalgesia. There is also emerging evidence for brain-gut behavioral therapies (BGBT) such as gut-directed hypnotherapy and cognitive behavior therapy for the treatment of a variety of DGBIs. In this issue of Neurogastroenterology and Motility, Hurtte et al. add to the literature on the effectiveness of BGBT in treating functional esophageal symptoms, showing multimodal therapy with pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic approaches led to improvement in health-related quality of life. In this review, we outline the mechanistic underpinnings of BGBT and review the existing evidence for BGBT for functional esophageal disorders and symptoms. We also highlight the future research directions and challenges for scaling these therapies.