The effects of the 5-HT3 antagonist, alosetron, on brain serotonin synthesis in patients with irritable bowel syndrome

Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2005 Apr;17(2):212-21. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2982.2004.00615.x.


Serotonin (5-HT) plays an important role in the pathophysiology of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Using alpha-[(11)C]methyl-L-tryptophan-positron emission tomography (PET), it was demonstrated that brain 5-HT synthesis is increased in patients with IBS, in a gender-specific manner. The aims of the study were to evaluate the effects of alosetron on brain 5-HT synthesis in patients with IBS. Six male and five female non-constipation-predominant IBS patients were enrolled. The subjects received alosetron or a placebo for 14 days, separated by a 2-week washout period. On day 14, rectal distensions commenced just prior to the PET scan (which was performed for 80 min), and continued for 20-min periods. The functional images were analysed with SPM99. Alosetron vs placebo treatments, in a randomized, double-blinded, crossover manner, were studied. 5-HT synthesis was greater in several regions in the males than in the females during the alosetron treatment, whereas there was no region in which the females had greater synthesis. There were significant gender-treatment interactions of synthesis in the cingulate gyrus, caudate nucleus, globus pallidus, and cerebellum. The gender differences in the effect of alosetron on brain 5-HT synthesis may be related to the gender differences in the efficacy of alosetron.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Carbolines / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Serotonin / biosynthesis*
  • Serotonin 5-HT3 Receptor Antagonists
  • Sex Factors
  • Tryptophan / blood


  • Carbolines
  • Gastrointestinal Agents
  • Serotonin 5-HT3 Receptor Antagonists
  • alosetron
  • Serotonin
  • Tryptophan