Adrenergic mechanisms in the control of gastrointestinal motility: from basic science to clinical applications

Pharmacology & Therapeutics


Over the years, a vast literature has accumulated on the adrenergic mechanisms controlling gut motility, blood flow, and mucosal transport. The present review is intended as a survey of key information on the relevance of adrenergic mechanisms modulating gut motility and will provide an outline of our knowledge on the distribution and functional role of adrenoceptor subtypes mediating motor responses. alpha1-Adrenoceptors are located postsynaptically on smooth muscle cells and, to a lesser extent, on intrinsic neurons; alpha2-adrenoceptors may be present both pre- and postsynaptically, with presynaptic auto- and hetero-receptors playing an important role in the modulation of neurotransmitter release; beta-adrenoceptors are found mainly on smooth muscle cells. From a clinical standpoint, adrenoceptor agonists/antagonists have been investigated as potential motility inhibiting (antidiarrheal/antispasmodic) or prokinetic agents, although at present their field of application is limited to select patient groups.


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