Studies were designed (a) to determine whether somatostatin is released into the circulation after meals in sufficient amounts to regulate gastric or pancreatic islet function in humans and (b) to investigate the possible role of somatostatin in the pathogenesis of duodenal ulcer disease. Mean plasma somatostatin-like immunoreactivity (SLI) increased from 6.2 +/- 1.5 pg/ml to a peak level of 13.8 +/- 1.3 pg/ml in eight healthy subjects after a 1,440-cal steak meal (P less than 0.005). When somatostatin-14 was infused intravenously, basal and food-stimulated gastric acid secretion and also basal and food-simulated plasma insulin and glucagon concentrations were reduced significantly at mean plasma SLI concentrations within the range seen after a meal. Thus, the amount of somatostatin reaching the systemic circulation after a steak meal was sufficient to inhibit gastric acid secretion and islet cell function. On the other hand, basal and food-stimulated plasma gastrin concentrations were reduced by intravenous somatostatin only at plasma SLI concentrations that were several-fold greater than post-prandial SLI concentrations. Although duodenal ulcer patients had significantly higher basal, food-stimulated, and peak pentagastrin-stimulated gastric acid secretion rates than healthy controls, duodenal ulcer patients and controls had nearly identical basal and food-stimulated SLI concentrations. Moreover, food-stimulated gastric acid secretion and gastrin release were inhibited by intravenous somatostatin to the same extent in ulcer patients and controls. These studies suggest that duodenal ulcer patients release normal amounts of somatostatin into the circulation and that target cells controlling acid secretion and gastrin release are normally sensitive to somatostatin in these patients.
T J Colturi, R H Unger, M Feldman