Apelin-13 inhibits gastric motility through vagal cholinergic pathway in rats

Mehmet Bülbül, Osman Sinen, Melahat Gök, R. Alberto Travagli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The expression of apelin and its receptors (APJ) in central autonomic networks suggests that apelin may regulate gastrointestinal motor functions. In rodents, central administration of apelin-13 has been shown to inhibit gastric emptying; however, the mechanisms involved remain to be determined. Using male adult Sprague-Dawley rats, the aims of the present study were 1) to determine the expression of APJ receptor in the dorsal vagal complex (DVC), 2) to assess the effects of central application of apelin-13 into the DVC on gastric tone and motility, and 3) to investigate the neuronal pathways responsible for apelin-induced alterations. APJ receptor immunoreactivity was detected in gastric-projecting and choline acetyltransferase-positive neurons of the DVC. Microinjection of apelin-13 into the DVC significantly decreased gastric tone and motility in both corpus and antrum. The apelin-induced reduction in gastric tone and motility was prevented by surgical vagotomy or fourth ventricular application of the APJ receptor antagonist, [Ala13]apelin-13 (F13A). Systemic administration of the muscarinic receptor antagonist atropine, but not the nitric oxide synthase inhibitor nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME), abolished the apelin-induced inhibitory responses. The present results indicate a central modulatory role of apelin in the vagal neurocircuitry that controls gastric motor functions via withdrawal of the tonically active cholinergic pathway. NEW & NOTEWORTHY This is the first study investigating the effects induced by brain stem application of apelin-13 while monitoring gastric tone and motility in rats. We have found that gastric-projecting neurons of the dorsal vagal complex express apelin receptors (APJ), which mediate the inhibitory actions of apelin-13. The inhibitory effects of apelin were abolished by systemic preadminis-tration of atropine, but not nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME). Apelin seems to modulate gastric motility via withdrawal of the tonically active vagal cholinergic pathway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)G201-G210
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Physiology (medical)


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