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Dig Dis. 1999;17(4):241-7.

Induced-hyperglycemia attenuates erythromycin-induced acceleration of hypertonic liquid-phase gastric emptying in type-I diabetic patients.

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  • 11st Department of Surgery, 'Policlinico Umberto l', University of Rome 'La Sapienza', Rome, Italy.



Erythromycin has been found to be a gastrointestinal prokinetic agent of hypertonic liquids, while acute hyperglycemia has been associated with delayed gastric emptying in diabetic patients.


To investigate whether hyperglycemia, per se, reduces gastric motility during erythromycin-induced acceleration on gastric emptying of hypertonic liquids in diabetic patients.


In 12 type-I diabetic patients following a hypertonic radiolabeled liquid meal, gastric emptying was measured scintigraphically during normoglycemia (5-8.9 mmol/l glucose) or hyperglycemia induced by intravenous (16-19 mmol/l) glucose infusion. The tests were performed on 4 separate days in random order after administering either placebo or 200 mg i.v. erythromycin.


In the hyperglycemic state compared to normoglycemia, the gastric emptying of the hypertonic liquid was reduced after placebo or erythromycin administration. The lag-phase duration (17.8+/-5.5 and 7.8+/-4.5 vs. 10.8+/-3.4 and 3.7+/-2.5 min, respectively, p<0.001), the overall gastric emptying time of the half meal (52.8+/-13 and 24.9+/-5.5 vs. 42.5+/-10.5 min and 16.6+/-6 min, respectively, p<0.001) and the retained percentage of liquid meal in the stomach at 60 and 100 min postprandially (p<0.001) were significantly increased.


The erythromycin-induced acceleration on gastric emptying of hypertonic liquids in diabetic patients is related to the plasma glucose level. The induced hyperglycemia reduces the erythromycin-induced acceleration of liquid-phase gastric emptying, decreasing the overall gastric emptying rate. In spite of the inhibitory effect of induced hyperglycemia on the gastric emptying of hypertonic liquids, erythromycin is still able to accelerate the emptying rate and could prove to be a useful prokinetic agent under hyperglycemic conditions.

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