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J Med Invest. 2009;56 Suppl:218-23.

Dietary monosodium glutamate enhances gastric secretion.

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  • 1Laboratory of Physiology of Digestion, Pavlov Institute of Physiology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, St.-Petersburg, Russia.


Dietary L-glutamate (Glu), an amino acid abundant in many foodstuffs in a free form, is able to modulate physiological functions in the stomach, including secretion and motility. Recently, specific receptors for Glu were identified in the apical membrane of chief cells in the lower region of fundic glands and in the somatostatin-secreting D-cell fraction of the gastric mucosa. This Glu-sensing system in the stomach is linked to activation of the vagal afferents. Among 20 kinds of amino acid, luminal Glu alone activated the vagal afferents in the stomach through a paracrine cascade led by nitric oxide and followed by serotonin (5-HT). In dogs with Pavlov pouches, found that supplementation of an amino acid-rich diet lacking Glu with monosodium Glu (MSG) enhanced the secretion of acid, pepsinogen, and fluid. However, MSG did not affect these secretions induced by a carbohydrate-rich diet and it had no effect on basal secretion when MSG was applied alone without the diet. Enhancement of gastric secretion by MSG was abolished by blockage of the gastric afferents using intra-gastric applied lidocaine. This effect of MSG was due in part to stimulation of 5-HT(3) receptors in the gastric mucosa.

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