Gastrointestinal secretory and motor responses are profoundly altered during stress; but the effects of stress and its mediator(s) on the two major gut functions, exocrine pancreatic secretion and gallbladder motility, are unknown. We therefore developed two animal models that allowed us to examine the effects of acoustic stress on canine gallbladder contraction and restraint stress on rat exocrine pancreatic secretion. Acoustic stress inhibited cholecystokinin-8 (CCK)- and meal-induced gallbladder contraction, and restraint stress inhibited basal and CCK/secretin-stimulated pancreatic secretion. These inhibitory responses were mimicked by cerebral injection of corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) and abolished by the CRF antagonist, alpha-helical CRF-(9-41). The effects of stress and exogenous CRF were simulated by intravenous infusion of norepinephrine but prevented by ganglionic, noradrenergic, and alpha-adrenergic but not beta-adrenergic receptor blockade. Vagotomy, adrenalectomy, and--in rats--hypophysectomy did not alter the effects produced by stress and CRF. These results indicate that endogenous CRF released in response to different stressors in distinct species inhibits canine gallbladder contraction and murine exocrine pancreatic secretion via activation of sympathetic efferents. Release of norepinephrine appears to be the final common pathway producing inhibition of biliary and pancreatic digestive function during stress mediated by cerebral CRF.
H J Lenz, B Messmer, F G Zimmerman