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Keywords:

  • Tachykinins;
  • NK1;
  • NK3;
  • emesis;
  • intestinal motility;
  • visceral pain;
  • osanetant;
  • talnetant

NK1 and NK3 receptors do not appear to play significant roles in normal GI functions, but both may be involved in defensive or pathological processes. NK1 receptor antagonists are antiemetic, operating via vagal sensory and motor systems, so there is a need to study their effects on other gastro-vagal functions thought to play roles in functional bowel disorder's. Interactions between NK1 receptors and enteric nonadrenergic, noncholinergic motorneurones suggest a need to explore the role of this receptor in disrupted colonic motility. NK1 receptor antagonism does not exert consistent analgesic activity in humans, but similar studies have not been carried out against pain of GI origin, where NK1 receptors may have additional influences on mucosal inflammatory or ‘irritant’ processes. NK3 receptors mediate certain disruptions of intestinal motility. The activity may be driven by tachykinins released from intrinsic primary afferent neurones (IPANs), which induce slow EPSP activity in connecting IPANs and hence, a degree of hypersensitivity within the enteric nervous system. The same process is also proposed to increase C-fibre sensitivity, either indirectly or directly. Thus, NK3 receptor antagonists inhibit intestinal nociception via a ‘peripheral’ mechanism that may be intestine-specific. Studies with talnetant and other selective NK3 receptor antagonists are, therefore, revealing an exciting and novel pathway by which pathological changes in intestinal motility and nociception can be induced, suggesting a role for NK3 receptor antagonism in irritable bowel syndrome.

British Journal of Pharmacology (2004) 141, 1303–1312. doi:10.1038/sj.bjp.0705742