Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional bowel disorder characterized by abdominal pain and alterations in stool form and/or frequency, leading to reduced quality of life. Pharmacologic agents currently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for treatment of IBS with diarrhea (IBS-D) in adults are the nonsystemic antibiotic rifaximin, the mixed µ- and κ-opioid receptor agonist/δ-opioid antagonist eluxadoline, and the selective serotonin 5-HT3 antagonist alosetron (the last of which is indicated only in women with severe IBS-D refractory to conventional therapy). Both eluxadoline and alosetron are administered as chronic daily therapies; rifaximin is given as a 2-week course of treatment with repeat courses administered as needed for symptom recurrence. Presumed mechanisms of action of rifaximin include modulation of the gut microbiota, anti-inflammatory activity, normalization of visceral hypersensitivity, and reduction in intestinal permeability. Eluxadoline targets opioid receptors in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, resulting in decreased GI motility, fluid secretion, and visceral pain perception. Alosetron antagonizes serotonergic afferent neural signals and also slows GI motility. The efficacy and safety of these agents have been investigated in several rigorous clinical trials, and it has been demonstrated that they improve global and individual IBS symptoms. This review highlights the pivotal efficacy and safety data of the three pharmacologic agents currently indicated in the USA for the management of IBS-D in adults. Funding: Salix Pharmaceuticals.
- Irritable bowel syndrome