GABA receptors in the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus influence feline lower esophageal sphincter and gastric function

Robert J. Washabau, Melinda Fudge, William J. Price, Frank C. Barone

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47 Scopus citations


Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) antagonist (bicuculline methiodide, BIC; picrotoxin, PIC) or agonist (muscimol, MUS) microinjections were made into the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus nerve (DMV), and effects on lower esophageal sphincter pressure (LESP), gastric motility, and gastric acid secretion were determined in chloralose-anesthetized cats. Right or left DMV sites were microinjected with BIC, PIC, MUS, or isotonic saline (140 nl) through a glass micropipette having a tip diameter of 15-21 μm. Esophageal body, LESP, and gastric fundic pressures were measured manometrically. Circular smooth muscle contractions of the antrum and pylorus were recorded with strain-gauge force transducers. Gastric acid secretion was measured every 15 min through a gastric cannula and titrated to pH 7.0. DMV microinjection sites were verified histologically. Direct BIC microinjections (0.275 or 0.550 nmol) into the DMV primarily produced a decrease in LESP (71% of all sites tested), with mean LESP changing from 23.2 ± 1.7 mmHg to 3.7 ± 0.7 mmHg (p < 0.01). Tonic LESP increases and phasic LESP contractile activity occurred less frequently. BIC-induced LESP responses were abolished by vagotomy or by microinjections of MUS (0.5 to 10 nmol) into the DMV. Direct PIC microinjection (0.232 nmol) into the DMV produced a pattern of responses similar to those observed with BIC (which were also abolished by vagotomy or by MUS microinjections into the DMV). The antrum and pylorus were also responsive to DMV microinjections of both GABA antagonists. Microinjections of BIC or PIC into the DMV produced increases in gastric circular muscle activity that occurred less frequently than LESP effects, but also were eliminated by vagotomy. The high (0.550 nmol) dose of BIC increased gastric motility significantly more often than the low dose of BIC (p < 0.05). In addition, BIC (0.550 nmol) microinjections into the DMV increased gastric secretary volume (from 0.6 ± 0.2 to 6.0 ± 2.5 ml/15 min; p < 0.01) and total titratible acid (from 34.4 ±8.9 to 86.0 ± 19.1 mEq/15 min; p < 0.01), and decreased gastric pH (from 4.63 ± 0.44 to 3.50 ± 0.49; p < 0.05). Vagotomy also eliminated the gastric secretory effects of DMV BIC. Direct microinjections of MUS into the DMV also blocked BIC- or PIC-induced changes in gastric motility and/or gastric acid secretion. Isotonic saline microinjected into the DMV did not increase basal or decrease stimulated gastric esophageal motility or gastric secretion. These data indicate that LESP, gastric motility, and gastric secretion are influenced by a tonic DMV inhibition mediated by GABAA receptor stimulation of the DMV. Because disinhibition of these receptors clearly activates the upper gut, future work should focus on identifying the nuclei providing this synaptic input to the DMV that might be involved in the functional regulation of upper gut motor and secretory function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)587-594
Number of pages8
JournalBrain Research Bulletin
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1995


  • Biculline
  • Dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus
  • Esophageal motility
  • GABA receptors
  • Gastric motility
  • Gastric secretion
  • Muscimol
  • Picrotoxin


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