Loperamide. Survey of studies on mechanism of its antidiarrheal activity

Digestive Diseases and Sciences
F H AwoutersP Janssen


In castor oil challenged rats, low doses of loperamide inhibit diarrhea and normalize intestinal propulsion. Unlike other opioids, loperamide is devoid of central opiate-like effects, including blockade of intestinal propulsion, up to the highest subtoxic oral dose. Nevertheless, the antidiarrheal action of loperamide can be considered to be mu-opiate receptor mediated, only a few in vitro effects at rather high concentrations being not naloxone-reversible. There is little evidence that interactions with intestinal opiate receptors directly change epithelial cell function. When secretory stimuli increase mucosal tension, however, loperamide may reverse the elevated hydrostatic tissue pressure that opposes normal absorption. This antisecretory effect at the mucosal level is accompanied by motor effects when loperamide reaches the myenteric mu-opiate receptors. At therapeutic doses for the treatment of acute diarrhea, it is likely that the mucosal effect prevails.


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