The aim of this double-blind crossover study was to evaluate the effects of oral erythromycin (250 mg t.i.d.) on fasting and postprandial gastrointestinal motility and gastrointestinal symptoms in patients with type I diabetes.


Antroduodenal motility was recorded with an ambulatory manometric technique for a 20-h period, including a high-caloric high-fat dinner and a low-caloric low-fat breakfast and a long fasting period, after 2 weeks erythromycin and placebo treatment in 12 patients with type I diabetes. During the manometric study, plasma glucose concentrations were assessed by frequent self-testing. Gastrointestinal symptoms were scored daily to assess the severity of the symptoms (range 0–3).


Oral erythromycin decreased the migrating motor complex cycle length from 118.9 ± 46.0 to 86.2 ± 25.3 min (P = 0.03) by shortening phase II from 68.7 ± 23.5 to 48.5 ± 19.4 min (P < 0.05). The total number of duodenal phase III increased from 48 to 62 (P = 0.075). However, the degree of antral participation to duodenal phase III did not increase. Erythromycin significantly decreased the duration of the postprandial period after dinner (from 417.0 ± 137.9 to 348.8 ± 93.8 min, P = 0.04). During this shorter postprandial period, the number of antral contractions (P < 0.01) and the antral motility index increased (P < 0.03), and early phase III activity at the level of the duodenum was abolished. In diabetic patients with antral hypomotility, after dinner, the mean symptom score improved significantly, from 2.07 ± 0.86 to 1.52 ± 0.63 (P = 0.018).


This ambulatory antroduodenal manometric study showed that oral erythromycin (250 mg t.i.d.) improves both fasting and postprandial antroduodenal motor activity after a high-caloric meal in patients with type I diabetes. Furthermore, in diabetic subjects with postprandial antral hypomotility, erythromycin reduces dyspeptic symptoms.

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