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Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2005 May;288(5):G927-32. Epub 2004 Dec 30.

Crural diaphragm inhibition during esophageal distension correlates with contraction of the esophageal longitudinal muscle in cats.

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  • 1Department of Gastroenterology, University of California San Diego, 3350 La Jolla Village Dr., La Jolla, California 92161, USA.


Esophageal distension causes simultaneous relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) and crural diaphragm. The mechanism of crural diaphragm relaxation during esophageal distension is not well understood. We studied the motion of crural and costal diaphragm along with the motion of the distal esophagus during esophageal distension-induced relaxation of the LES and crural diaphragm. Wire electrodes were surgically implanted into the crural and costal diaphragm in five cats. In two additional cats, radiopaque markers were also sutured into the outer wall of the distal esophagus to monitor esophageal shortening. Under light anesthesia, animals were placed on an X-ray fluoroscope to monitor the motion of the diaphragm and the distal esophagus by tracking the radiopaque markers. Crural and costal diaphragm electromyograms (EMGs) were recorded along with the esophageal, LES, and gastric pressures. A 2-cm balloon placed 5 cm above the LES was used for esophageal distension. Effects of baclofen, a GABA(B) agonist, were also studied. Esophageal distension induced LES relaxation and selective inhibition of the crural diaphragm EMG. The crural diaphragm moved in a craniocaudal direction with expiration and inspiration, respectively. Esophageal distension-induced inhibition of the crural EMG was associated with sustained cranial motion of the crural diaphragm and esophagus. Baclofen blocked distension-induced LES relaxation and crural diaphragm EMG inhibition along with the cranial motion of the crural diaphragm and the distal esophagus. There is a close temporal correlation between esophageal distension-mediated LES relaxation and crural diaphragm inhibition with the sustained cranial motion of the crural diaphragm. Stretch caused by the longitudinal muscle contraction of the esophagus during distension of the esophagus may be important in causing LES relaxation and crural diaphragm inhibition.

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