Fluoroquinolones (FQs) are a broad class of antibiotics typically prescribed for bacterial infections, including infections for which their use is discouraged. The FDA has proposed the existence of a permanent disability (Fluoroquinolone Associated Disability; FQAD), which is yet to be formally recognized. Previous studies suggest that FQs act as selective GABAA
receptor inhibitors, preventing the binding of GABA in the central nervous system. GABA is a key regulator of the vagus nerve, involved in the control of gastrointestinal (GI) function. Indeed, GABA is released from the Nucleus of the Tractus Solitarius (NTS) to the Dorsal Motor Nucleus of the vagus (DMV) to tonically regulate vagal activity. The purpose of this review is to summarize the current knowledge on FQs in the context of the vagus nerve and examine how these drugs could lead to dysregulated signaling to the GI tract. Since there is sufficient evidence to suggest that GABA transmission is hindered by FQs, it is reasonable to postulate that the vagal circuit could be compromised at the NTS-DMV synapse after FQ use, possibly leading to the development of permanent GI disorders in FQAD.
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