Background: Functional dyspepsia (FD) is a highly prevalent functional bowel disorder. The effects of antidepressant therapy (ADTx) on gastric sensorimotor function in FD patients are poorly understood. Aims: Determine whether FD and subtypes with abnormalities in gastric function respond differently to ADTx compared to those with normal physiology. Methods: This multicenter, prospective trial randomized FD patients to 12 weeks of amitriptyline (AMI; 50 mg), escitalopram (ESC; 10 mg), or matching placebo. Demographics, symptoms, psychological distress, gastric emptying, and satiation were measured. Gastric accommodation (GA) using single-photon emission computed tomography imaging was performed in a subset of patients. An intent to treat analysis included all randomized subjects. The effect of treatment on gastric emptying was assessed using ANCOVA. A post hoc appraisal of the data was performed categorizing patients according to the Rome III subgrouping (PDS and EPS). Results: In total, 292 subjects were randomized; mean age=44 yrs. 21% had delayed gastric emptying. Neither antidepressant altered gastric emptying, even in those with baseline delayed gastric emptying. GA increased with ADTx (P=0.02). Neither antidepressant affected the maximal-tolerated volume (MTV) of the nutrient drink test although aggregate symptom scores improved compared to placebo (P=0.04). Patients with the combined EPS-PDS subtype (48%) had a lower MTV on the nutrient drink test compared to the EPS group at baseline (P=0.02). Postprandial bloating improved with both AMI (P=0.03) and ESC (P=0.02). Conclusions: Amitriptyline (50 mg) improves FD symptoms but does not delay gastric emptying, even in patients with baseline delayed gastric emptying. GA improved with low-dose ADTx; the precise mechanism of action is unknown warranting further study.
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