Parenteral 5-hydroxytryptamine stimulates small intestinal motility, but the effect of continuous stimulation with 5-hydroxytryptamine on the human migrating motor complex is unknown. Using a selective 5-hydroxytryptamine reuptake inhibitor, paroxetine, this study investigated the effect of indirect 5-hydroxytryptamine agonism on fasting small intestinal motility and transit. Eight healthy subjects were studied while receiving paroxetine 30 mg daily for five days and while receiving no treatment, in random order. Ambulant small intestinal motility was recorded from five sensors positioned from the duodenojejunal flexure to the ileum for 16-18 hours. Paroxetine reduced the migrating motor complex periodicity mean (SEM) from 81 (6) min to 67 (4) min (p < 0.05), and increased the propagation velocity of phase III from 3.1 to 4.7 cm/min in the proximal jejunum (p < 0.01), and from 1.6 to 3.4 cm/min distally (p < 0.001). Orocaecal transit time measured by lactulose hydrogen breath test was reduced by paroxetine from 70 (9) min to 48 (7) min (p < 0.05). These data suggest that 5-hydroxytryptamine participates in the control of migrating motor complexes in humans, and that selective 5-hydroxytryptamine reuptake inhibitors have a prokinetic action in the human small intestine.
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