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J Auton Nerv Syst. 1997 Jan 12;62(1-2):94-102.

Distension-evoked ascending and descending reflexes in the isolated guinea-pig stomach.

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Department of Human Physiology, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia.


Distension-evoked gastric reflexes were studied by intracellular recording from circular muscle cells in the gastric fundus, corpus and antrum in the isolated guinea-pig stomach. Localised electrical stimulation, 2 mm circumferential to the recording electrode, evoked inhibitory junctions potentials in all three gastric regions, sometimes followed by depolarisations in the antrum. In the mid corpus, the inhibitory responses were substantially reduced by Nw-nitro-L-arginine (100 microM), unmasking excitatory junction potentials. Residual hyperpolarisations were blocked by apamin (0.5 microM) which also enhanced the amplitude of excitatory junction potentials. These excitatory junction potentials were abolished by hyoscine (1 microM). Thus transmission from inhibitory motor neurons is mediated by both nitric oxide and an apamin-sensitive mechanism. Transmission from excitatory motor neurons to the circular muscle is mediated by acetylcholine via muscarinic receptors. Balloon distension of 10 s duration of the fundus or antrum elicited inhibitory junction potentials in circular muscle cells of the mid corpus. These inhibitory junction potentials were blocked by tetrodotoxin (0.6 microM) and were greatly reduced by Nw-nitro-L-arginine (100 microM). The residual hyperpolarisations were blocked by apamin (0.5 microM). This indicates the presence of ascending and descending inhibitory reflex pathways in the stomach. In 3 out of 7 experiments, following blockade of inhibitory transmission, small nerve-mediated excitatory junction potentials were evoked by antral distension indicating the presence of an additional ascending excitatory reflex pathway. Distension of the corpus elicited prominent inhibitory junction potentials, sometimes followed by large depolarisations, in circular muscle cells in the fundus, but not in the antrum. This suggests that there is also an ascending inhibitory reflex pathway from the corpus to the fundus but no distension-sensitive descending reflex pathway from the corpus to the antrum. These results demonstrate that within the stomach there are reflex pathways which can be activated by localised distension and project at some distance orally and aborally within the gastric wall. It is likely that the inhibitory reflex pathways are involved in gastric adaptive relaxation which occurs when the intact, isolated stomach is distended. The excitatory reflex pathways from the antrum to the corpus are likely to be involved in the intrinsic excitatory reflex responses observed in the isolated intact stomach to distension and thus be involved in the mixing and emptying of gastric contents.

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