Esophageal-gastric relaxation reflex in rat: Dual control of peripheral nitrergic and cholinergic transmission

Gerlinda E. Hermann, R. Alberto Travagli, Richard C. Rogers

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26 Scopus citations


It has long been known that the esophageal distension produced by swallowing elicits a powerful proximal gastric relaxation. Gastroinhibitory control by the esophagus involves neural pathways from esophageal distension-sensitive neurons in the nucleus tractus solitarius centralis (cNTS) with connections to virtually all levels of the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus (DMV). We have shown recently that cNTS responses are excitatory and primarily involve tyrosine hydroxylase-immunoreactive cells, whereas the DMV response involves both an α1 excitatory and an α2 inhibitory response. In the present study, using an esophageal balloon distension to evoke gastric relaxation (esophageal-gastric reflex, EGR), we investigated the peripheral pharmacological basis responsible for this reflex. Systemic administration of atropine methyl nitrate reduced the amplitude of the gastric relaxation to 52.0 ± 4.4% of the original EGR, whereas NG-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME) reduced it to 26.3 ± 7.2% of the original EGR. Concomitant administration of atropine methyl nitrate and L-NAME reduced the amplitude of the gastric relaxation to 4.0 ± 2.5% of control. This reduction in the amplitude of induced EGR is quite comparable (4.3 ± 2.6%) to that seen when the animal was pretreated with the nicotinic ganglionic blocker hexamethonium. In the presence of bethanechol, the amplitude of the esophageal distension-induced gastric relaxation was increased to 177.0 ± 10.0% of control; administration of L-NAME reduced this amplitude to 19.9 ± 9.5%. Our data provide a clear demonstration that the gastroinhibitory control by the esophagus is mediated via a dual vagal innervation consisting of inhibitory nitrergic and excitatory cholinergic transmission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R1570-R1576
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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