Randomised clinical trial: the effects of amitriptyline on drinking capacity and symptoms in patients with functional dyspepsia, a double-blind placebo-controlled study

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2011 Sep;34(6):638-48. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2011.04775.x. Epub 2011 Jul 19.


Background: Functional dyspepsia is one of the most prevalent (15-40%) functional gastrointestinal disorders. Antidepressants such as amitriptyline are often used in these patients, but clinical studies are currently lacking.

Aim: To evaluate the effect of 8 weeks of treatment with amitriptyline on drinking capacity, symptoms evoked by a standardised drink test (primary endpoint) and clinical symptoms (secondary endpoint).

Methods: Patients meeting the Rome III criteria for functional dyspepsia (FD) were invited to participate in a double blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial and were treated with either amitriptyline (12.5-50 mg) or placebo during 8 weeks. All included patients underwent a nutrient drink test before and after treatment. Drinking capacity and evoked symptoms were recorded. In addition, dyspeptic symptoms were weekly assessed using PAGI SYM (patient assessment of upper gastrointestinal symptom severity index) questionnaire.

Results: Thirty-eight patients (amitriptyline n=18, placebo n=20; age 41±2year, 61% F) completed the study. The drinking capacity of liquid meal was not affected by either amitriptyline or placebo treatment. Postprandial symptoms were not significantly different between amitriptyline and placebo. During the entire treatment, total symptom score (0.47 points, P=0.02) and nausea (0.86 points, P=0.004) on PAGI SYM were significantly reduced by amitriptyline compared with placebo.

Conclusions: Amitriptyline did not affect drinking capacity and postprandial symptoms evoked by the drink test in FD patients. However, total clinical symptom score and nausea were reduced during 8 weeks of treatment. Our data suggest that amitriptyline particularly improves nausea in functional dyspepsia, but larger clinical trials are needed to further confirm our findings.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adrenergic Uptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Amitriptyline / therapeutic use*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drinking / drug effects*
  • Dyspepsia / drug therapy*
  • Dyspepsia / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Postprandial Period / drug effects*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Adrenergic Uptake Inhibitors
  • Amitriptyline