Vagally mediated effects of brain stem dopamine on gastric tone and phasic contractions of the rat

L. Anselmi, L. Toti, C. Bove, R. A. Travagli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Dopamine (DA)-containing fibers and neurons are embedded within the brain stem dorsal vagal complex (DVC); we have shown previously that DA modulates the membrane properties of neurons of the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus (DMV) via DA1 and DA2 receptors. The vagally dependent modulation of gastric tone and phasic contractions, i.e., motility, by DA, however, has not been characterized. With the use of microinjections of DA in the DVC while recording gastric tone and motility, the aims of the present study were 1) assess the gastric effects of brain stem DA application, 2) identify the DA receptor subtype, and, 3) identify the postganglionic path-way(s) activated. Dopamine microinjection in the DVC decreased gastric tone and motility in both corpus and antrum in 29 of 34 rats, and the effects were abolished by ipsilateral vagotomy and fourth ventricular treatment with the selective DA2 receptor antagonist L741,626 but not by application of the selective DA1 receptor antagonist SCH 23390. Systemic administration of the cholinergic antagonist atropine attenuated the inhibition of corpus and antrum tone in response to DA microinjection in the DVC. Conversely, systemic administration of the nitric oxide synthase inhibitor nitro-L-arginine methyl ester did not alter the DA-induced decrease in gastric tone and motility. Our data provide evidence of a dopaminergic modulation of a brain stem vagal neurocircuit that controls gastric tone and motility. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Dopamine administration in the brain stem decreases gastric tone and phasic contractions. The gastric effects of dopamine are mediated via dopamine 2 receptors on neurons of the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus. The inhibitory effects of dopamine are mediated via inhibition of the postganglionic cholinergic pathway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)G434-G441
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Physiology (medical)


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