First published May 1, 1975 - More info
The purpose of the present study was to investigate the nature of the vagal inhibitory innervation to the lower esophageal sphincter in the anesthetized opossum. Sphincter relaxation with electrical stimulation of the vagus was not antagonized by atropine, propranolol, phentolamine, or by catechloamine depletion with reserpine. A combination of atropine and propranolol was also ineffective, suggesting that the vagal inhibitory influences may be mediated by the noncholinergic, nonadrenergic neurons. To determine whether a synaptic link with nicotinic transmission was present, we investigated the effect of hexamethonium on vagal-stimulated lower esophageal sphincter relaxation. Hexamethonium in doses that completely antagonized the sphincter relaxation in response to a ganglionic stimulant, 1,1-dimethyl-4-phenylpiperazinium iodide (DMPP), did not block the sphincter relaxation in response to vagal stimulation at 10 pulses per second, and optimal frequency of stimulation. A combination of hexamethonium and catecholamine depletion was also ineffective, but hexamethonium plus atropine markedly antagonized sphincter relaxation (P less than 0.001). Moreover, 4-(m-chlorophenyl carbamoyloxy)-2-butyltrimethylammonium chloride (McN-A-343), a muscarinic ganglionic stimulant, also caused relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter. We suggest from these results that: (a) pthe vagal inhibitory pathway to the sphincter consists of preganglionic fibers which synapse with postganglionic neurons: (b) the synaptic transmission is predominantly cholinergic and utilizes nicotinic as well as muscarinic receptors on the postganglionic neuron, and; (c) postganglionic neurons exert their influence on the sphincter by an unidentified inhibitory transmitter that is neither adrenergic nor cholinergic.