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Am J Physiol. 1984 Nov;247(5 Pt 1):G515-9.

Swallowing induces sequential activation of esophageal longitudinal smooth muscle.


We examined the mechanical activity of the longitudinal and circular muscles of the esophagus at three different levels (9, 5, and 1 cm above the lower esophageal sphincter) during peristalsis induced by swallows or vagal stimulation in anesthetized opossums with miniature strain gauges applied in the axis of muscle fibers. The onset of longitudinal muscle contraction occurred in an aboral sequence with swallows but simultaneously with vagal stimulation. The speed of longitudinal muscle activation with swallows was 7.6 +/- 1.7 cm/s. Circular muscle contraction occurred in an aboral sequence with vagal stimulation and swallowing with speeds of 4.1 +/- 0.8 and 2.3 +/- 0.1 cm/s, respectively. Longitudinal muscle contracted before the circular muscle at all sites. The duration of longitudinal muscle contraction increased aborally (P less than 0.05) with swallowing or vagal stimulation. These studies show that 1) during swallowing, esophageal longitudinal and circular smooth muscle contract in a sequential fashion, 2) the longitudinal muscle sequential contraction is due to central mechanisms, whereas circular muscle sequential contraction may be due to both central and peripheral mechanisms, and 3) peripheral neuromuscular mechanisms produce regional differences in the duration of longitudinal muscle contraction.

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