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Neural Control of the Lower Esophageal Sphincter INFLUENCE OF THE VAGUS NERVES

Satish Rattan and Raj K. Goyal

Department of Internal Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TexasUniversity of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Dallas, Texas 75235

Published October 1974

We performed studies in the opossum to define the influence of the vagi in the control of lower esophageal sphincter (LES) function. Bilateral vagotomy caused transient sphincter hypertension which was prevented by phentolamine and by atropine. Stimulation of the peripheral end of vagus, after bilateral cervical vagotomy, caused relaxation of the LES over a wide range of frequency and intensity of electrical stimulation. The relaxation was less marked at the lower frequencies of stimulation, and atropine treatment did not enhance this relaxation. In other experiments, atropine treatment reversed the rise in gastric (fundic) pressure with the vagal stimulation, but atropine did not enhance the degree of LES relaxation. Stimulation of the central end of the vagus caused an increase in LES pressure due to a centrally mediated reflex; the efferents for this motor response were not present in the vagi, as the reflex contraction persisted after bilateral vagotomy. The LES contraction with the stimulation of the vagal afferents was antagonized by phentolamine as well as by atropine. These studies suggest that: (a) the vagi do not mediate any cholinergic excitatory influences to the LES and the vagal influence of the sphincter is entirely inhibitory; (b) the vagi carry afferent fibres for a centrally mediated neural reflex which contracts the LES, but the efferent path of this reflex arc does not lie in the vagi.

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