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Background:

There is a need for better tolerated drugs to normalize bowel function in chronic constipation. Prucalopride is a highly selective, specific, serotonin4 receptor agonist with enterokinetic properties.

Aim:

To evaluate the effects of prucalopride on bowel function, colonic transit and anorectal function in patients with chronic constipation.

Methods:

Twenty-eight patients were enrolled in this double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study (prucalopride: 1 mg, n=12; 2 mg, n=16). Patients kept a bowel function diary. Colonic transit times and anorectal function (anal manometry, rectal sensitivity and rectal compliance) were assessed.

Results:

Prucalopride (1 mg) compared to placebo significantly increased the mean number of spontaneous complete, spontaneous and all bowel movements per week. Prucalopride (1 mg) significantly decreased the percentage of bowel movements with hard/lumpy stools and straining and increased the urge to defecate. Prucalopride (1 and 2 mg) decreased the mean total colonic transit time by 12.0 h (prucalopride 42.8 h vs. placebo 54.8 h; P=0.074). No statistically significant effects were found in any of the anorectal function parameters. Prucalopride was well tolerated. There were no clinically relevant changes in standard safety parameters.

Conclusions:

Prucalopride significantly improves stool frequency and consistency, and the urge to defecate, and may decrease colonic transit times in patients with chronic constipation.