Targeted therapies for diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome

Clin Exp Gastroenterol. 2012:5:69-100. doi: 10.2147/CEG.S29023. Epub 2012 May 25.

Abstract

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) causes gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, and bowel pattern abnormalities, which compromise patients' daily functioning. Common therapies address one or two IBS symptoms, while others offer wider symptom control, presumably by targeting pathophysiologic mechanisms of IBS. The aim of this targeted literature review was to capture clinical trial reports of agents receiving the highest recommendation (Grade 1) for treatment of IBS from the 2009 American College of Gastroenterology IBS Task Force, with an emphasis on diarrhea-predominant IBS. Literature searches in PubMed captured articles detailing randomized placebo-controlled trials in IBS/diarrhea-predominant IBS for agents receiving Grade I (strong) 2009 American College of Gastroenterology IBS Task Force recommendations: tricyclic antidepressants, nonabsorbable antibiotics, and the 5-HT(3) receptor antagonist alosetron. Studies specific for constipation-predominant IBS were excluded. Tricyclic antidepressants appear to improve global IBS symptoms but have variable effects on abdominal pain and uncertain tolerability; effects on stool consistency, frequency, and urgency were not adequately assessed. Nonabsorbable antibiotics show positive effects on global symptoms, abdominal pain, bloating, and stool consistency but may be most efficacious in patients with altered intestinal microbiota. Alosetron improves global symptoms and abdominal pain and normalizes bowel irregularities, including stool frequency, consistency, and fecal urgency. Both the nonabsorbable antibiotic rifaximin and the 5-HT(3) receptor antagonist alosetron improve quality of life. Targeted therapies provide more complete relief of IBS symptoms than conventional agents. Familiarization with the quantity and quality of evidence of effectiveness can facilitate more individualized treatment plans for patients with this heterogeneous disorder.

Keywords: alosetron; antibiotic therapy; antidepressant therapy; evidence; targeted review.