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Open Access Study protocol

Efficacy and mode of action of mesalazine in the treatment of diarrhoea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-D): study protocol for a randomised controlled trial

Matthew P Leighton1*, Ching Lam2, Samir Mehta1 and Robin C Spiller2

Author Affiliations

1 Nottingham Clinical Trials Unit, University of Nottingham, Derby Road, Nottingham, NG7 2UH, UK

2 Nottingham Digestive Diseases Centre-Biomedical Research Unit, University of Nottingham, Derby Road, Nottingham, NG7 2UH, UK

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Trials 2013, 14:10  doi:10.1186/1745-6215-14-10

Published: 9 January 2013

Abstract

Background

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is reported by one in ten of the population accounting for up to 40% of new referrals to gastroenterology outpatients. Patients characteristically have abdominal discomfort and disturbed bowel habit. Diarrhoea-predominant IBS is characterised by frequent loose stools with associated urgency and abdominal cramps. Current symptomatic treatments can reduce bowel frequency but often fail to reduce discomfort.

Mesalazine is an anti-inflammatory drug used to treat patients with inflammatory bowel disease. There is one pilot study suggesting it may be beneficial to patients who have diarrhoea-predominant IBS but these findings need to be confirmed in a larger trial. The current study aims to test the effectiveness of mesalazine to reduce symptoms in diarrhoea-predominant IBS patients. The study will also investigate the mode of action of the drug, especially its impact on mast cell activation.

Methods/design

This is a multicentre randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial using a parallel group design. At least 108 participants with diarrhoea-predominant IBS will be recruited through at least six hospitals. The intervention is a 12-week course of 2g mesalazine granules taken up to twice a day. The comparator is a blinded placebo granule formulation.

Outcome measures include stool diaries, symptom questionnaires, stool and blood samples together with rectal mucosal biopsies. The daily stool diary will record stool frequency and form, urgency, bloating, abdominal pain and a global satisfaction with control of IBS scored each week. The questionnaires will assess bowel symptoms, while the samples and biopsies will be used to analyse underlying mechanisms of any response.

Primary outcome will be the average stool frequency during weeks 11 and 12 of the treatment period and will be compared between treatment arms using an analysis of covariance in the form of a general linear model incorporating baseline characteristics that are thought a priori to strongly predict outcome. The primary efficacy parameter will be the difference in mean frequency between treatment arms.

Discussion

This report describes a randomised controlled trial that will provide evidence of any benefit of treating diarrhoea-predominant IBS patients with mesalazine. The results will be available toward the end of 2013.

Trial registration

ISRCTN76612274

Keywords:
Irritable bowel syndrome; Diarrhoea-predominant; Mesalazine