Modern treatment of short bowel syndrome

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Purpose of review

Recently, the US Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency approved the glucagon-like peptide 2 analogue, teduglutide, for the treatment of short bowel syndrome (SBS), and this review describes the physiological basis for its clinical use.

Recent findings

By affecting the intestinal neuroendocrine system, hormones may promote the growth of the intestinal mucosa, restore a more normal gastric emptying and secretion, stimulate intestinal blood flow, increase intestinal barrier function, immunity and absorption, and thereby promote structural and functional adaptation following intestinal resection. In a 3-week, phase 2, metabolic balance study, teduglutide increased intestinal wet weight absorption by ∼700 g/day and reduced faecal energy losses by ∼0.8 MJ/day. In two subsequent 24-week, phase 3 studies in SBS patients with intestinal failure (SBS-IF), teduglutide reduced the need for parenteral support in the same magnitude.


Teduglutide adds incremental benefit to the limited medical treatment armamentarium in SBS patients. Modern treatments should aim to maximize remnant intestinal absorption, decrease malabsorption and accompanying symptoms, reduce the need, burdens and complications related to parenteral support, and ultimately improve the health-related quality of life in SBS-IF patients. Future research should target and implement other key hormones with similar effects, thereby promoting intestinal adaptation and rehabilitation in SBS patients.

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