Background: Alosetron, a 5-HT3-receptor antagonist, relieves abdominal pain and improves bowel function in non-constipated, female patients with irritable bowel syndrome. 5-HT3 antagonists delay colonic transit, increase colonic compliance, and increase small intestinal water absorption.
Aim: To evaluate the effects of alosetron on gastrointestinal and colonic transit, rectal compliance and rectal sensation in irritable bowel syndrome.
Methods: A double-blind, placebo-controlled, two-dose study of alosetron was performed in 25 non-constipated irritable bowel syndrome patients, with paired studies before and after 4 weeks of treatment with placebo (n=5), 1 mg alosetron (n=10) or 4 mg (n=10) alosetron b.d. Gastrointestinal and colonic transit were measured by scintigraphy. Rectal compliance and sensation were assessed by rectal balloon distention with a barostat.
Results: There was a trend (P=0.06) for 1 mg alosetron to increase rectal compliance (median pressure at half maximum volume 11 mmHg after alosetron vs. 15.6 mmHg before alosetron). The 1 mg b.d. alosetron dose non-significantly retarded proximal colonic transit. Alosetron and placebo reduced sensory scores relative to baseline values; none of the changes induced by alosetron was significant relative to placebo.
Conclusions: Alosetron had no significant effect on gastrointestinal transit or rectal sensory and motor mechanisms in non-constipated irritable bowel syndrome patients in this study. Alosetron's effects on colonic sensorimotor function and central sensory mechanisms deserve further evaluation.