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Maya Freeman

Fluoroquinolones might cause permanent functional gastrointestinal disorders in healthy patients


Maya Freeman ’23


Deanna Cannizzaro, Lydia Naughton

Faculty Mentor(s):

Cecilia Bove, Biology

Funding Source:

Biology Department


Fluoroquinolones (FQs) are a broad class of antibiotics typically prescribed for several infectious diseases, including common infections for which the use of FQs is discouraged. Indeed, the FDA has proposed the existence of a permanent disability (Fluoroquinolone Associated Disability; FQAD), which, despite being fairly common after FQs use, has yet to be formally recognized by healthcare professionals worldwide. Previous studies suggest that FQs act as selective inhibitors of GABAA receptors, preventing the binding of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA in the central nervous system. GABA is a key regulator of the neural circuit regulating gastrointestinal function. In order to assess whether there is a correlation between the use of FQs and the onset of functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, a questionnaire was sent to 367 individuals who were prescribed FQ addressing their gut health in the last year. Survey participants were divided into three groups based on the type of FQ they were prescribed. Chi-square analysis revealed that while all participants had a significant degree of functional GI disorder, certain FQs are associated with more severe and more frequent gastric pain, difficulty producing a bowel movement and harder stools. Lastly, a significant portion of respondents also reported frequent swelling or bloating. In conclusion, these data indicated that permanent functional GI disorders may present after FQs administration, and that certain FQs produce more severe symptoms than others. Our study highlights the need to revisit current guidelines for the administration of FQs for individuals already potentially at risk to develop functional GI disorders.

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