Recent advances in the pharmacology of gastrointestinal prokinetics

Pharmacol Res. 1996 Apr-May;33(4-5):217-26. doi: 10.1006/phrs.1996.0030.


Gastrointestinal prokinetics promote or increase the coordination of the gut wall contractions leading to enhancement of propulsive motility and, consequently, caudal displacement of luminal contents. Currently, they are considered drugs of choice for the treatment of upper gastrointestinal tract functional motor disorders such as those associated with gastrooesophageal reflux disease, chronic dyspepsia, gastroparesis (idiopathic or secondary to other diseases) and acute or chronic idiopathic intestinal pseudo-obstruction. The aim of the present review is to give an outline of the pharmacology of currently available prokinetics and of novel drugs endowed with gastrointestinal prokinetic action that require further pharmacological and/or clinical testing. The novel drugs include recent generations of benzamide and non-benzamide 5-HT4 receptor agonists, motilin receptor agonists, and inhibitors of nitric oxide synthase. Furthermore, based on our improved knowledge of the role of 5-HT in emesis and gastrointestinal motility, the therapeutic potential of potent mixed 5-HT4 agonists--5-HT3 antagonists in the control of cytotoxic-drug-induced emesis and associated gut motor disturbances will be discussed. Lastly, a section of this review deals with the colon as a possible target for the action of prokinetics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Benzamides / pharmacology
  • Colon / drug effects
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / pharmacology*
  • Gastrointestinal Motility / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Nitric Oxide / physiology
  • Receptors, Serotonin / drug effects


  • Benzamides
  • Gastrointestinal Agents
  • Receptors, Serotonin
  • Nitric Oxide