Background: Functional gastrointestinal disorders account for at least a third of visits to gastroenterology clinics. Despite pathophysiological complexity, impaired gut motility may be frequently present in these disorders.
Introduction: Prokinetics are a class of drugs that promote gastrointestinal motility, accelerate transit, and potentially improve digestive symptoms. Several prokinetic agents with a great variety of mechanisms of action are available.
Aim: The purpose of this paper is to update our current knowledge about the efficacy and safety of prokinetics.
Methods: A literature search on efficacy and safety of prokinetics was carried out using the online databases of Pubmed, Medline, and Cochrane.
Results: Based on the action of different receptors, prokinetics mainly comprise dopamine antagonists, 5HT4 agonists, motilin agonists, ghrelin agonists, and cholinergic agonists. Prokinetics have the potential to improve motility function in all segments of the digestive tract, from the esophagus to the colon. In particular, drug international agencies have approved antidopaminergic metoclopramide for the treatment of gastroparesis and serotoninergic prucalopride for chronic constipation not responsive to traditional laxatives. Arrhythmias by QT prolongation and galactorrhea by prolactin stimulation are the more frequent side effects related to prokinetics use.
Conclusion: Old and new prokinetics are effective in ameliorating digestive motility disorders and related symptoms and are widely prescribed. Special attention should be paid to the potential adverse events of these agents.
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