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College of Nursing

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Research

BGA

The brain-gut axis (BGA) or gut-brain axis (GBA) describes the bidirectional communication between the central nervous system and enteric nervous system, or “little brain” in your digestive tract.

brain gut axis

Research

We investigate the biopsychosocial influences on the brain-gut connection in individuals with chronic abdominal pain and other chronic conditions. We are interested in how the intersection of these factors influence health outcomes and incorporate omics and other discovery methodologies in these research endeavors.


Enrollment full

Biopsychosocial factors among women with and without chronic pelvic pain: A pilot study of the vaginal microbiome, ovarian hormones, and interpersonal relationships

The purpose of this study is to assess the feasibility of evaluating women with and without chronic pelvic pain (CPP) from a biopsychosocial perspective. Specifically, the goals of this research study are:

  1. Assess feasibility and acceptability of remote, longitudinal biospecimen collection for ovarian hormone levels (estradiol and progesterone) via saliva, and the vaginal microbiome via self-collected vaginal swabs in women with and without chronic pelvic pain (CPP).
  2. Assess feasibility and acceptability of virtual study visits with psychosocial-based assessments in women with and without CPP.
  3. Evaluate the intersection of ovarian hormone levels (estradiol and progesterone) with the vaginal microbiome, and their associations with health-related factors and interpersonal relationships in women with and without CPP.

Individuals who choose to participate will attend two online/virtual study visits over the course of approximately one month/menstrual cycle, complete online questionnaires, daily symptom assessment, and collect two saliva samples and two vaginal swabs at home which are mailed back to USC. Individuals do not have to live in South Carolina to participate, and are compensated $200 for their time and effort.


Previous Study

The long-term objective of this study is to better understand how sex- and/or gender-based factors contribute to the disproportionate burden of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in women. Specifically, the goals of this research study are twofold:

  • Assess feasibility and acceptability of remote, longitudinal salivary steroid hormone measurement in women and men with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and women and men who serve as healthy controls (HC).
  • Assess feasibility and acceptability of virtual study visits with psychosocial/gender-based assessments among women and men with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and women and men who serve as healthy controls (HC).

Individuals who chose to participate attended two online/virtual study visits over the course of approximately one month/menstrual cycle, completed online questionnaires, daily symptom assessment, and collected four saliva samples at home which were mailed back to the college. Individuals did not have to live in South Carolina to participate. 

  • Women and men (18-45 years of age)
  • Ability to read/write in English
  • Access to smartphone/computer with internet and camera
  • Diagnosis of IBS and IBS subtype (for cases), with documentation provided by healthcare provider
  • Willingness to participate in all study procedures
  • Any organic gastrointestinal (GI) condition (inflammatory bowel disease: Crohn's disease, Ulcerative Colitis, active H. pylori infection, etc.)
  • Any malignancies or endocrine disorders such as hypogonadism/ovarian hypofunction, polycystic ovarian syndrome, menstrual cycle irregularities, adrenal disorders
  • Severe comorbid pain or psychiatric condition requiring recent hospitalization
  • Pregnancy, recent pregnancy (past three months), or plans to become pregnant during study period
  • Planned changes to GI medications during study timeframe

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