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Baillieres Clin Gastroenterol. 1993 Mar;7(1):23-54.

Pharmacology of gastric acid inhibition.

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  • 1Medical College of Virginia, Richmond 23249.


Gastric acid secretion is precisely regulated by neural (acetylcholine), hormonal (gastrin), and paracrine (histamine; somatostatin) mechanisms. The stimulatory effect of acetylcholine and gastrin is mediated via increase in cytosolic calcium, whereas that of histamine is mediated via activation of adenylate cyclase and generation of cAMP. Potentiation between histamine and either gastrin or acetylcholine may reflect postreceptor interaction between the distinct pathways and/or the ability of gastrin and acetylcholine to release histamine from mucosal ECL cells. The prime inhibitor of acid secretion is somatostatin. Its inhibitory paracrine effect is mediated predominantly by receptors coupled via guanine nucleotide binding proteins to inhibition of adenylate cyclase activity. All the pathways converge on and modulate the activity of the luminal enzyme, H+,K(+)-ATPase, the proton pump of the parietal cell. Precise information on the mechanisms involved in gastric acid secretion and the identification of specific receptor subtypes has led to the development of potent drugs capable of inhibiting acid secretion. These include competitive antagonists that interact with stimulatory receptors (e.g. muscarinic M1-receptor antagonists and histamine H2-receptor antagonists) as well as non-competitive inhibitors of H+,K(+)-ATPase (e.g. omeprazole). The histamine H2-receptor antagonists (cimetidine, ranitidine, famotidine, nizatidine and roxatidine acetate) continue as first-line therapy for peptic ulcer disease and are effective in preventing relapse. Although they are generally well tolerated, histamine H2-receptor antagonists may cause untoward CNS, cardiac and endocrine effects, as well as interfering with the absorption, metabolism and elimination of various drugs. The dominance of the histamine H2-receptor antagonists is now being challenged by omeprazole. Omeprazole reaches the parietal cell via the bloodstream, diffuses through the cytoplasm and becomes activated and trapped as a sulfenamide in the acidic canaliculus of the parietal cell. Here, it covalently binds to H+,K(+)-ATPase, the hydrogen pump of the parietal cell, thereby irreversibly blocking acid secretion in response to all modes of stimulation. The main potential drawback to its use is its extreme potency which sometimes leads to virtual anacidity, gastrin cell hyperplasia, hypergastrinaemia and, in rats, to the development of carcinoid tumours. The cholinergic receptor on the parietal cell has recently been identified as an M3 subtype and that on postganglionic intramural neurones of the submucosal plexus as an M1 subtype.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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