Amitriptyline modifies the visceral hypersensitivity response to acute stress in the irritable bowel syndrome.Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2009 Mar 01; 29(5):552-60.AP
Acute physical stress causes alteration in gut autonomic function and visceral hypersensitivity in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). We have developed a model to measure this stress response.
To assess whether treatment with a drug effective in treating IBS (amitriptyline) alters the response to acute stress in IBS patients.
Nineteen patients with IBS were given amitriptyline 25-50 mg. Patients underwent physical stress (cold pressor) test at baseline and after 3 months of treatment. Physiological parameters measured were: stress perception; systemic autonomic tone [heart rate (HR) and blood pressure (BP)]; gut specific autonomic innervation [rectal mucosal blood flow (RMBF)] and visceral sensitivity (rectal electrosensitivity).
Fourteen of 19 (74%) patients improved symptomatically after 3 months of amitriptyline. Acute stress induced increased perception of stress and systemic autonomic tone and reduced RMBF in symptomatic responders and nonresponders (P > 0.05 for all). All nonresponders but only 3 of 14 responders continued to exhibit stress-induced reduced pain threshold at 3 months (change from baseline -31% vs. +2%, P < 0.03 respectively).
In this open study, amitriptyline appears to decrease stress-induced electrical hypersensitivity; this effect is independent of autonomic tone. The gut response to acute stress deserves further study as a model to study drug efficacy in IBS.