OBJECTIVE: Tegaserod is a 5-HT4 receptor partial agonist that increases peristaltic activity of the intestinal tract. It is approved for the treatment of patients with irritable bowel syndrome with constipation (IBS-C). IBS is a chronic gastrointestinal disorder of function that is reported to be associated with an increased incidence of abdominal surgery including cholecystectomy. The effect of tegaserod on nongut digestive organs, such as the gallbladder and biliary tract, has not been previously investigated. Therefore, this study aimed to evaluate the effects of tegaserod on gallbladder contractility and on functional status of the sphincter of Oddi during both the interdigestive and the digestive periods in healthy female subjects and in female patients with IBS-C. METHODS: During a 6-wk, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study, gallbladder contractility and concomitant change in luminal diameter of the common hepatic duct (CHD) and the common bile duct (CBD, both proximal and distal) in response to a standard liquid meal were quantified using real-time ultrasonography. Changes in luminal diameter of the CHD and the CBD were used as a surrogate marker for sphincter of Oddi function. Ultrasound measurements were conducted every 15 min from 45 min before, to 60 min after the test meal to observe the impact of tegaserod on gallbladder volume and any concomitant change in the diameters of the CHD and the CBD that developed in response to gallbladder contraction. The ultrasound measurements of gallbladder contractility, along with the CHD and the CBD diameters, were repeated after each of the two 2-wk periods of treatment with tegaserod or placebo. The recommended dose of tegaserod (6 mg b.i.d.) for IBS-C patients was used in healthy female subjects (n = 13) and female patients with IBS-C (n = 20). Twice this dose (12 mg b.i.d.) was also evaluated in an additional 20 female patients with IBS-C. Statistical evaluations were conducted using a two-sided analysis of variance (ANOVA). RESULTS: Gallbladder contractility variables including ejection fraction, ejection rate and ejection period, fasting and residual volume, and maximal emptying, were similar after 2 wk of treatment with tegaserod 6 mg b.i.d. and placebo in healthy female subjects and female patients with IBS-C. There were no significant changes in the luminal diameters of the CHD or the CBD after tegaserod compared to placebo in any cohort. Additionally, no significant dilation (≥ 7 mm in diameter) of the CHD or CBD was observed during maximal gallbladder emptying. Similar results were also observed when tegaserod was given at 12 mg b.i.d. in patients with IBS-C. Tegaserod treatment had no significant effect on plasma CCK concentration in response to the test meal. No significant abdominal pain or unexpected adverse events were reported during the study. CONCLUSIONS: This study showed no significant pharmacodynamic effect of tegaserod on gallbladder contractility or on CBD and CHD diameters as a surrogate marker of sphincter of Oddi function during both the interdigestive (fasting) and the digestive (postprandial) periods in healthy female subjects and female patients with IBS-C.
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