Journal of Gastroenterology

, Volume 48, Issue 2, pp 177-181

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Effects on gastrointestinal functions and symptoms of serotonergic psychoactive agents used in functional gastrointestinal diseases

  • Madhusudan GroverAffiliated withClinical Enteric Neuroscience Translational and Epidemiological Research (CENTER), College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic
  • , Michael CamilleriAffiliated withClinical Enteric Neuroscience Translational and Epidemiological Research (CENTER), College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic Email author 


The effects of antidepressants on the gastrointestinal tract may contribute to their potential efficacy in functional dyspepsia and irritable bowel syndrome; buspirone, a prototype 5-HT1A agonist, enhances gastric accommodation and reduces postprandial symptoms in response to a challenge meal. Paroxetine, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, accelerates small bowel but not colonic transit, and this property may not be relevant to improve gut function in functional gastrointestinal disorders. Venlafaxine, a prototype serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, enhances gastric accommodation, increases colonic compliance and reduces sensations to distension; however, it is associated with adverse effects that reduce its applicability in treatment of functional gastrointestinal disorders. Tricyclic antidepressants reduce sensations in response to food, including nausea, and delay gastric emptying, especially in females. Buspirone appears efficacious in functional dyspepsia; amitriptyline was not efficacious in a large trial of children with functional gastrointestinal disorders. Clinical trials of antidepressants for treatment of irritable bowel syndrome are generally small. The recommendations of efficacy and number needed to treat from meta-analyses are suspect, and more prospective trials are needed in patients without diagnosed psychiatric diseases. Antidepressants appear to be more effective in the treatment of patients with anxiety or depression, but larger prospective trials assessing both clinical and pharmacodynamic effects on gut sensorimotor function are needed.


Serotonin Norepinephrine Receptor Reuptake SLC6A4 Buspirone Venlafaxine Paroxetine Citalopram Tricyclic antidepressants