Assessment of central noradrenergic functioning in irritable bowel syndrome using a neuroendocrine challenge test

J Psychosom Res. 1990;34(5):575-80. doi: 10.1016/0022-3999(90)90032-y.


Desipramine, the monoamine reuptake inhibitor, acts predominantly on noradrenergic neurones, and via alpha-2 receptors brings about the release of growth hormone in normal healthy subjects. Thirteen patients with a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome, 10 normal controls and eight patients with peptic ulcer disease were each given a challenge test of desipramine 1 mg/kg body weight. Growth hormone release over a 3 h period was monitored. A blunted response was defined as a failure of growth hormone levels to rise at least 5 mU/l above baseline. Of the 13 patients with irritable bowel syndrome 11 showed such a blunting. The results suggest abnormal central alpha-2 receptor functioning in irritable bowel syndrome.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Colonic Diseases, Functional / blood*
  • Colonic Diseases, Functional / psychology
  • Desipramine*
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Motility / physiology
  • Growth Hormone / blood*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norepinephrine / physiology*
  • Peptic Ulcer / blood
  • Peptic Ulcer / psychology
  • Personality Inventory
  • Receptors, Adrenergic / physiology*


  • Receptors, Adrenergic
  • Growth Hormone
  • Desipramine
  • Norepinephrine