Effect of a 5HT3‐antagonist (ondansetron) on rectal sensitivity and compliance in health and the irritable bowel syndrome


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In some patients with the irritable bowel syndrome, rectal urgency and discomfort are major clinical problems and, under experimental conditions, these symptoms are perceived at lesser volumes of rectal distension than they are in asymptomatic controls. Further, a 5‐hydroxytryptamine type‐3 receptor antagonist increased the threshold for rectal discomfort in irritable bowel syndrome. Our aims were, (a) to measure rectal sensation during isobaric distensions of the rectum, and (b) to test the effect of another selective 5HT3 antagonist, ondansetron 0.15 mg/kg, on rectal sensitivity, colonic tone, rectal tone and manometric responses. Ten healthy volunteers and five patients with diarrhoea‐predominant irritable bowel syndrome were studied. A multilumen barostatmanometric assembly was placed in the descending colon, and a second barostat balloon was positioned in the rectum. Tone in the wall of the colon and rectum was measured by the barostat balloon volume during a constant pressure clamp, while intraluminal pressures were recorded by manometry; perceived sensations were also recorded before and after the intravenous administration of ondansetron or placebo in blinded fashion. Rectal resistance to stretch was greater and rectal urgency was induced by lower distending pressures in irritable bowel syndrome, however, basal tone in the rectum was similar in health and irritable bowel syndrome. Ondansetron did not change rectal sensitivity (first sensation or urgency) or tone. Rectal distension did not alter tone in the descending colon or colonic manometry; ondansetron did not influence any index of colonic function. We conclude that in diarrhoea‐predominant irritable bowel syndrome there is reduced rectal compliance and the rectum is abnormally sensitive to a pressure stimulus, but this is not altered by 5HT3‐blockade with ondansetron at the dose used.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)543-551
Number of pages9
JournalAlimentary pharmacology & therapeutics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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