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Citalopram in Irritable Bowel Syndrome

This study has been completed.
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
University of California, San Francisco Identifier:
First received: May 18, 2007
Last updated: September 12, 2012
Last verified: September 2012


  1. Primary null hypothesis: The rate of clinical response, assessed as patient-reported global symptom rating and "adequate relief of IBS symptoms," does not differ between non-depressed IBS patients treated with the SSRI citalopram and patients treated with placebo.
  2. Secondary null hypotheses:

    1. Changes in disease-related quality of life, assessed with the IBS-QOL instrument, do not differ between patients treated with the SSRI citalopram and patients treated with placebo.
    2. Changes in rectosigmoid visceral sensitivity, assessed by barostat balloon distention, do not differ between patients treated with the SSRI citalopram and patients treated with placebo.

Condition Intervention Phase
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Drug: Citalopram
Phase 2

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Double-Blind
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: Effect of Citalopram on Clinical Symptoms and Visceral Sensitivity in Patients With Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by University of California, San Francisco:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Clinical Symptoms, "Adequate relief" [ Time Frame: Weekly ratings ]

Secondary Outcome Measures:
  • Quality of Life [ Time Frame: End of study and baseline ]
  • Visceral sensitivity [ Time Frame: End of study and baseline ]

Enrollment: 54
Study Start Date: April 2001
Study Completion Date: June 2009
Primary Completion Date: June 2009 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Detailed Description:
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects an estimated 15 million Americans at a cost of $1.7 billion per year. Visceral hypersensitivity is present in many patients with IBS, but its contribution to clinical symptoms is unclear. Tricyclic antidepressants may be beneficial in IBS, but their side effects can be unacceptable. Because they are better tolerated, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are often used to treat IBS, but their efficacy in IBS has not been examined in controlled studies. We propose a randomized, placebo-controlled trial of SSRI treatment in IBS. Non-depressed patients will be studied in order to assess SSRI effects on IBS independent of depression. Our specific aims are: 1) To determine whether the SSRI citalopram is superior to placebo in improving clinical symptoms, disease-related quality of life, and tolerance to rectal balloon distension; 2) To assess whether symptomatic improvement is correlated with improvement in quality of life and/or visceral sensitivity. Subjects will fulfill Rome II IBS criteria, will have normal screening studies, and will not be depressed or on antidepressants. Global and specific symptoms, and satisfaction will be rated daily during a 1-week baseline. Subjects will then be randomized in concealed, double-blind fashion to citalopram or placebo, will complete the validated IBS-QOL instrument, and will undergo rectal compliance and sensory testing with a barostat. Subjects will be treated and will rate symptoms and satisfaction weekly for a total of 8 weeks, and also daily during the final week for comparison with the baseline. At study end, subjects will again complete the IBS-QOL and undergo a barostat study. The primary outcome will be change in global symptom rating. Secondary outcomes will include the proportion of patients achieving adequate relief and correlations between symptoms, quality of life and barostat parameters. We estimate that to detect a standardized effect size of 0.9 in global symptom rating with 2-sided α=0.05 and β=0.1, 54 subjects are needed. We plan to enroll 60 subjects, which will allow detection of an odds ratio for response (adequate relief) of 4.5 with 2-sided α=0.05 and β=0.2. If the odds ratio for this dichotomous outcome is smaller, this study will provide pilot data for a larger trial. Clinical symptoms are expected to fluctuate. Even if citalopram is not superior to placebo, prospectively collected data will illuminate the relationship between symptoms and visceral sensitivity, and the placebo effect.

Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years and older   (Adult, Senior)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

Inclusion Criteria:

Inclusion criteria are:

  1. Fulfilling Rome II IBS definition;(21)
  2. Age ≥18 yrs and able to give informed consent;
  3. Normal sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy or barium enema within 5 years, normal complete blood count and thyroid studies, and negative stool ova and parasite exam for patients with diarrhea.(1)

Exclusion Criteria:

Exclusion criteria are:

  1. Current psychiatric diagnosis or active treatment with antidepressants;
  2. Pregnancy;
  3. Major systemic illness, or illness that could explain IBS-like symptoms;
  4. Active IBS therapy other than fiber or loperamide.
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Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00477165

United States, California
San Francisco, California, United States, 94143
Sponsors and Collaborators
University of California, San Francisco
Principal Investigator: Uri Ladabaum, M.D., M.S. University of California, San Francisco
  More Information

Responsible Party: University of California, San Francisco Identifier: NCT00477165     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: H10539-18502 
Study First Received: May 18, 2007
Last Updated: September 12, 2012

Keywords provided by University of California, San Francisco:
Irritable bowel syndrome
Serotonin-reuptake inhibitor
Visceral sensitivity
Quality of life

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Pathologic Processes
Colonic Diseases, Functional
Colonic Diseases
Intestinal Diseases
Gastrointestinal Diseases
Digestive System Diseases
Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
Neurotransmitter Uptake Inhibitors
Membrane Transport Modulators
Molecular Mechanisms of Pharmacological Action
Neurotransmitter Agents
Serotonin Agents
Physiological Effects of Drugs
Antidepressive Agents, Second-Generation
Antidepressive Agents
Psychotropic Drugs
Antiparkinson Agents
Anti-Dyskinesia Agents
Autonomic Agents
Peripheral Nervous System Agents
Muscarinic Antagonists
Cholinergic Antagonists
Cholinergic Agents processed this record on February 27, 2017