Review article: promotility drugs in the treatment of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 1993 Feb;7(1):5-20. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.1993.tb00064.x.


Prokinetic agents are drugs that increase contractile force and accelerate intraluminal transit. They are often used in treating disorders of gastrointestinal motility including gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The most widely studied agents include bethanechol, metoclopramide, domperidone and cisapride. These drugs act either by enhancing the effect of acetylcholine or by blocking the effect of an inhibitory neurotransmitter such as dopamine. With the exception of cisapride, the clinical efficacy of the various prokinetic agents in treating GERD has not been confirmed consistently. These agents have variable effects on oesophageal and gastric motor function and are fraught with side-effects. They are effective in relieving mild reflux symptoms but do not predictably heal oesophagitis. On the other hand, cisapride is thus far the most effective prokinetic agent studied for the treatment of GERD. It relieves reflux symptoms and promotes healing of grade I-II oesophagitis, with few side-effects or tachyphylaxis. Its most important role may be in the maintenance treatment of GERD either as a single agent or in combination therapy with an H2-antagonist after oesophagitis healing.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Benzamides / pharmacology
  • Bethanechol
  • Bethanechol Compounds / pharmacology
  • Child
  • Cisapride
  • Erythromycin / pharmacology
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / drug therapy*
  • Gastrointestinal Motility / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Metoclopramide / pharmacology
  • Piperidines / pharmacology
  • Receptors, Cholecystokinin / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Serotonin Antagonists / pharmacology


  • Benzamides
  • Bethanechol Compounds
  • Piperidines
  • Receptors, Cholecystokinin
  • Serotonin Antagonists
  • Bethanechol
  • Erythromycin
  • clebopride
  • Metoclopramide
  • Cisapride