Kristine Lillestøl

University of Bergen, Bergen, Hordaland Fylke, Norway

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Publications (10)20.95 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Perceived food hypersensitivity is a prevalent, but poorly understood condition. In this review article, we summarize narratively recent literature including results of our 10 years' interdisciplinary research program dealing with such patients. The patients (more than 400) included in our studies were all adults referred to a university hospital because of gastrointestinal complaints self-attributed to food hypersensitivity. Despite extensive examinations, food allergy was seldom diagnosed. The majority of the patients fulfilled the diagnostic criteria for irritable bowel syndrome. In addition, most suffered from several extra-intestinal health complaints and had considerably impaired quality of life. However, psychological factors could explain only approximately 10% of the variance in the patients' symptom severity and 90% of the variance thus remained unexplained. Intolerance to low-digestible carbohydrates was a common problem and abdominal symptoms were replicated by carbohydrate ingestion. A considerable number of patients showed evidence of immune activation by analyses of B-cell activating factor, dendritic cells and "IgE-armed" mast cells. Multiple factors such as immune activation, disturbed intestinal fermentation, enteric dysmotility, post-infectious changes and "local" allergy in the gut as well as psychological disturbances may play a role in the pathophysiology of perceived food hypersensitivity. Hence, our results support the view that management of these patients should be interdisciplinary.
    Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology 06/2011; 46(10):1169-78. · 2.33 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Food hypersensitivity is commonly suspected, but seldom verified. Patients with subjective food hypersensitivity suffer from both intestinal and extraintestinal health complaints. Abnormalities of the enterochromaffin cells may play a role in the pathogenesis. The aim of this study was to investigate enterochromaffin cell function in patients with subjective food hypersensitivity by measuring serum chromogranin A (CgA) and 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT, serotonin) in gut lavage fluid. Sixty-nine patients with subjective food hypersensitivity were examined. Twenty-three patients with inflammatory bowel disease and 35 healthy volunteers were included as comparison groups. CgA was measured in serum by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Gut lavage fluid was obtained by administering 2 L of polyethylene glycol solution intraduodenally. The first clear fluid passed per rectum was collected and 5-HT was analyzed by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. Serum levels of CgA were significantly lower in patients with subjective food hypersensitivity than in healthy controls (P = 0.04). No differences were found in 5-HT levels in gut lavage fluid between patients with subjective food hypersensitivity and the control groups. There was no correlation between serum CgA and gut lavage 5-HT. Decreased blood levels of CgA suggest neuroendocrine alterations in patients with subjective food hypersensitivity. However, 5-HT levels in gut lavage fluid were normal.
    International Journal of General Medicine 01/2011; 4:555-60.
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    ABSTRACT: We examined whether psychological factors such as general and gastrointestinal symptom-specific anxiety and depression could predict symptom severity in patients with unexplained, self-reported (subjective) food hypersensitivity. For the purpose, we translated and validated the Visceral Sensitivity Index (VSI). Seventy consecutive patients completed questionnaires for Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, VSI, Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptom Questionnaire, and Subjective Health Complaints Inventory. Relationship between scores on psychological factors and scores on somatic symptoms were studied by multiple regression analyses. Most patients reported non-gastrointestinal symptoms in addition to their irritable bowel syndrome complaints, but general and symptom-specific anxiety, and depression could not explain a significant amount of the variance in somatic complaints. Gastrointestinal symptom-specific anxiety was a significant predictor of gastrointestinal complaints (p = 0.02), and age was the sole significant predictor of non-gastrointestinal complaints (p = 0.01). Approximately 90% of the total variance in symptom severity remained unexplained by the psychological factors. The Norwegian version of the VSI had satisfactory validity (Cronbach alfa = 0.93). Symptom-specific and general anxiety were significantly correlated (r = 0.48, p < or = 0.0001). Psychological factors were not major predictors of symptom severity in patients with subjective food hypersensitivity. The Norwegian version of VSI had satisfactory validity.
    Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology 08/2010; 45(7-8):835-43. · 2.33 Impact Factor
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    G Arslan Lied, K Lillestøl, J Valeur, A Berstad
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    ABSTRACT: Medically confirmed hypersensitivity reactions to food are usually IgE-mediated. Non-IgE-mediated reactions are not only seldom recognized but also more difficult to diagnose. To examine B cell-activating factor (BAFF) in serum and gut lavage fluid of patients with self-reported food hypersensitivity, and to study its relationship to atopic disease. Gut lavage fluid was obtained from 60 and serum from another 17 patients with self-reported food hypersensitivity. Twenty healthy volunteers served as controls, gut lavage fluid was obtained in all, serum from 11 of 20. The patients were divided into atopic and non-atopic subgroups. BAFF was measured by ELISA in both serum and gut lavage fluid. B cell-activating factor levels in serum and gut lavage fluid were significantly higher in patients than in controls (P < 0.03 and P < 0.002 respectively). Non-atopic patients had significantly higher levels of BAFF in serum than both atopic patients (P < 0.05) and controls (P < 0.05). There was no significant correlation between serum levels of BAFF and IgE. The results suggest that BAFF might be a new mediating mechanism in food hypersensitivity reactions. Significantly higher levels in non-atopic compared with atopic patients, and no correlation between BAFF and IgE, suggest that BAFF might be involved particularly in non-IgE-mediated reactions.
    Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics 03/2010; 32(1):66-73. · 4.55 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: An association between atopic disease and gastrointestinal complaints has been suggested. To explore the association between atopic disease, gastrointestinal symptoms, and possible gastrointestinal manifestations of atopic disease in patients with self-reported food hypersensitivity. Symptoms, skin prick tests, serum markers of allergy and intestinal permeability were recorded in 71 adult patients. Eosinophils, tryptase- and IgE-positive cells were counted in duodenal biopsies. Sixty-six (93%) patients had irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and 43 (61%) had atopic disease, predominantly rhinoconjunctivitis. All 43 were sensitized to inhalant allergens, 29 (41%) to food allergens, but food challenges were negative. Serum total IgE and duodenal IgE-positive cell counts were significantly correlated (P < 0.0001) and both were significantly higher in atopic than in non-atopic patients (P < 0.0001 and P = 0.003 respectively). IgE-positive cells appeared to be 'armed' mast cells. Intestinal permeability was significantly elevated in atopic compared with non-atopic patients (P = 0.02). Gastrointestinal symptoms and numbers of tryptase-positive mast cells and eosinophils did not differ between groups. Patients with self-reported food hypersensitivity had a high prevalence of IBS and atopic disease. Atopic patients had increased intestinal permeability and density of IgE-bearing cells compared with non-atopic patients, but gastrointestinal symptoms did not differ between groups.
    Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics 02/2010; 31(10):1112-22. · 4.55 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Self-reported food hypersensitivity (SFH) is common. Psychological factors are assumed to be associated. We assessed anxiety and depression in SFH patients, using both questionnaires and interview. Consecutive patients (n=130) and randomly selected healthy volunteers (n=75) completed the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), the neuroticism scale of the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (EPQ-N) and the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ). Seventy-six of the patients were also interviewed by use of the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview and the Montgomery-Aasberg Depression Rating Scale. All patients underwent extensive allergological, gastroenterological and dietary examinations. According to interviews, 57% of patients fulfilled the DSM-IV criteria for at least one psychiatric disorder. Anxiety disorders (34%) and depression (16%) predominated. According to questionnaires, patients scored significantly higher than controls on all psychometric scales except for depression (HADS). We also found an underreporting of depression in HADS compared with interviews (2.5% vs. 16%, P=.001). Food hypersensitivity was rarely confirmed by provocation tests (8%). Eighty-nine percent of the patients had irritable bowel syndrome. Anxiety and depression are common in patients with IBS-like complaints self-attributed to food hypersensitivity. Anxiety disorders predominate. In this setting, depression may be underreported by HADS.
    General hospital psychiatry 01/2010; 32(1):42-8. · 2.67 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Psychological distress may be causally related to multiple, unexplained somatic symptoms. We have investigated job stress, coping strategies and subjective health complaints in patients with subjective food hypersensitivity. Sixty-four patients were compared with 65 controls. All participants filled in questionnaires focusing on job stress, job demands and control, work environment, coping strategies and subjective health complaints. Compared with controls, patients scored significantly lower on job stress and job demands, and significantly higher on authority over job decisions. Coping strategies and satisfaction with work environment did not differ significantly between the two groups, but the patients reported significantly more subjective health complaints than the controls. Scores on job stress and job demands were generally low in patients with subjective food hypersensitivity. It is unlikely, therefore, that the patients’ high scores on subjective health complaints are causally related to the work situation.
    Scandinavian Journal of Psychology. 01/2010;
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    ABSTRACT: Psychological distress may be causally related to multiple, unexplained somatic symptoms. We have investigated job stress, coping strategies and subjective health complaints in patients with subjective food hypersensitivity. Sixty-four patients were compared with 65 controls. All participants filled in questionnaires focusing on job stress, job demands and control, work environment, coping strategies and subjective health complaints. Compared with controls, patients scored significantly lower on job stress and job demands, and significantly higher on authority over job decisions. Coping strategies and satisfaction with work environment did not differ significantly between the two groups, but the patients reported significantly more subjective health complaints than the controls. Scores on job stress and job demands were generally low in patients with subjective food hypersensitivity. It is unlikely, therefore, that the patients’ high scores on subjective health complaints are causally related to the work situation.
    Scandinavian Journal of Psychology 01/2010; 51:179-184. · 1.29 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Psychological distress may be causally related to multiple, unexplained somatic symptoms. We have investigated job stress, coping strategies and subjective health complaints in patients with subjective food hypersensitivity. Sixty-four patients were compared with 65 controls. All participants filled in questionnaires focusing on job stress, job demands and control, work environment, coping strategies and subjective health complaints. Compared with controls, patients scored significantly lower on job stress and job demands, and significantly higher on authority over job decisions. Coping strategies and satisfaction with work environment did not differ significantly between the two groups, but the patients reported significantly more subjective health complaints than the controls. Scores on job stress and job demands were generally low in patients with subjective food hypersensitivity. It is unlikely, therefore, that the patients' high scores on subjective health complaints are causally related to the work situation.
    Scandinavian Journal of Psychology 12/2009; 51(2):179-84. · 1.29 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Abdominal complaints related to food intake might be due to hypersensitivity. A firm diagnosis of food allergy is often difficult to establish, particularly in the absence of systemic food-specific IgE. Using ultrasonography and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) we were able to visualise the intestinal response in one such case. A 24-year-old female presented with self-reported food hypersensitivity, particularly related to the intake of egg. Nausea and diarrhoea were predominant symptoms. Double-blind placebo-controlled food challenge with raw egg was positive, but all other conventional tests of food hypersensitivity, including skin prick test, total and food-specific IgE in serum, were negative. A thorough investigation programme could not reveal any organic disease of the gastrointestinal tract. We extended the evaluation to include two new provocation tests, where intestinal wall thickening and the amount of luminal liquid were monitored by external abdominal ultrasound and MRI. Both ultrasound and MRI investigations indicated intestinal wall thickening and influx of large amounts of fluid into the proximal small intestines within 10 min of duodenal challenge with egg. The response was associated with abdominal pain and bloating. The response to provocation was typical of an immediate allergic reaction. Our results indicate that local food-induced hypersensitivity reactions can occur in the gut in the absence of systemic indications of IgE-mediated allergy. Abdominal ultrasonography and MRI might become valuable tools for documenting such responses.
    Digestion 02/2006; 73(2-3):111-5. · 1.94 Impact Factor