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Peptides. 2010 Dec;31(12):2229-35. doi: 10.1016/j.peptides.2010.08.026. Epub 2010 Sep 15.

Cold ambient temperature reverses abdominal surgery-induced delayed gastric emptying and decreased plasma ghrelin levels in rats.

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CURE/Digestive Diseases Research Center, Center for Neurobiology of Stress, Department of Medicine, Digestive Diseases Division at the University of California Los Angeles, and VA Greater Los Angeles Health Care System, CA 90073, USA.


We investigated whether acute cold-induced vagal activation through brainstem thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) signaling influences abdominal surgery-induced delayed gastric emptying (GE) in fasted rats. Laparotomy and cecal palpation or sham (short anesthesia alone) was performed 10 min before or 30 min after cold exposure (4-6°C) lasting 90 min. Non-nutrient GE was assessed during 70-90 min of cold exposure. Control groups remained at room temperature (RT). The stable TRH analog, RX-77368 (50 ng/rat) was injected intracisternally immediately before surgery and GE monitored 30-50 min postsurgery in rats maintained at RT. Plasma acyl (AG) and total ghrelin levels were assessed using the new RAPID blood processing method and radioimmunoassays. Desacyl ghrelin (DAG) was derived from total minus AG. In rats maintained at RT, abdominal surgery decreased GE by 60% compared to sham. Cold before or after surgery or RX-77368 normalized the delayed GE. In non-fasted rats, cold exposure increased plasma AG and DAG levels at 2 h (2.4- and 2.7-times, respectively) and 4 h (2.2- and 2.0-times, respectively) compared to values in rats maintained at RT. In fasted rats, abdominal surgery decreased AG and DAG levels by 2.4- and 2.1-times, respectively, at 90 min. Cold for 90 min after surgery normalized AG and DAG levels to those observed in sham-treated animals kept at RT. These data indicate that endogenous (cold exposure) and exogenous (TRH analog) activation of medullary TRH vagal signaling prevent abdominal surgery-induced delayed GE. The restoration of circulating AG levels inhibited by abdominal surgery may contribute to alleviate postoperative gastric ileus.

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