Review article: An analysis of the pharmacological rationale for selecting drugs to inhibit vomiting or increase gastric emptying during treatment of gastroparesis

Link to article at PubMed

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2023 Mar 14. doi: 10.1111/apt.17466. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Drugs which can inhibit nausea/vomiting and/or increase gastric emptying are used to treat gastroparesis, mostly 'off-label'. Within each category, they act at different targets and modulate different physiological mechanisms.

AIMS: Address the questions: In gastroparesis, why should blocking one pathway causing vomiting, be more appropriate than another? Why might increasing gastric emptying via one mechanism be more appropriate than another?

METHODS: Drugs used clinically were identified via consensus opinions and reviews, excluding the poorly characterised. Their pharmacology was defined, mapped to mechanisms influencing vomiting and gastric emptying, and rationale developed for therapeutic use.

RESULTS: Vomiting: Rationale for 5-HT3 , D2 , H1 or muscarinic antagonists, and mirtazapine, amitriptyline, nortriptyline, are poor. Arguments for inhibiting central consequences of vagal afferent transmission by NK1 antagonism are complicated by doubts over effects on nausea. Gastric emptying: Confusion emerges because of side-effects of drugs increasing gastric emptying: Metoclopramide (5-HT4 agonist, D2 and 5-HT3 antagonist; also blocks some emetic stimuli and causes tardive dyskinesia) and Erythromycin (high-efficacy motilin agonist, requiring low doses to minimise side-effects). Limited trials with selective 5-HT4 agonists indicate variable efficacy.

CONCLUSIONS: Several drug classes inhibiting vomiting have no scientific rationale. NK1 antagonism has rationale but complicated by limited efficacy against nausea. Studies must resolve variable efficacy of selective 5-HT4 agonists and apparent superiority over motilin agonists. Overall, lack of robust activity indicates a need for novel approaches targeting nausea (e.g., modulating gastric pacemaker or vagal activity, use of receptor agonists or new targets such as GDF15) and objective assessments of nausea.

PMID:36919196 | DOI:10.1111/apt.17466

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