Nausea and vomiting are debilitating symptoms complicating many clinical conditions. Conventional antiemetic agents act as muscarinic, histamine, and dopamine receptor antagonists in the central nervous system. In a retrospective analysis, tricyclic antidepressant drugs demonstrated efficacy in long-term treatment of functional nausea. Some cases of vomiting result from impaired gastrointestinal motor activity. Agents which act on gastric serotonin (5-HT4), dopamine, and motilin receptors accelerate gastric emptying and relieve symptoms in gastroparesis. Recent investigations suggest that some patients with refractory gastroparesis may benefit from gastric electrical pacing. The treatment of acute chemotherapy-induced emesis was revolutionized by 5-HT3 receptor antagonists; however, these agents are less efficacious in delayed vomiting. Neurokinin (NK-1) receptor antagonists show promise in treating delayed chemotherapy-evoked emesis. Furthermore, animal studies indicate a broad spectrum of action for NK-1 antagonists in treating diverse causes of nausea and vomiting. The cyclic vomiting syndrome is characterized by discrete episodes of relentless vomiting separated by asymptomatic intervals and is associated with migraine headaches. Antimigraine therapies including the 5-HT1D receptor agonists sumatriptan reduce the severity of cyclic vomiting attacks. Investigations into these and other novel treatments may provide important advances in the care of difficult cases of nausea and vomiting resulting from disparate illnesses.
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View details for PubMedID 10697661