In vivo confocal imaging of the mucosal surface of rat stomach was used to measure pH noninvasively under the mucus gel layer while simultaneously imaging mucus gel thickness and tissue architecture. When tissue was superfused at pH 3, the 25 μm adjacent to the epithelial surface was relatively alkaline (pH 4.1 ± 0.1), and surface alkalinity was enhanced by topical dimethyl prostaglandin E2 (pH 4.8 ± 0.2). Luminal pH was changed from pH 3 to pH 5 to mimic the fasted-to-fed transition in intragastric pH in rats. Under pH 5 superfusion, surface pH was relatively acidic (pH 4.2 ± 0.2). This surface acidity was enhanced by pentagastrin (pH 3.5 ± 0.2) and eliminated by omeprazole, implicating parietal cell H,K-ATPase as the dominant regulator of surface pH under pH 5 superfusion. With either pH 5 or pH 3 superfusion (a) gastric pit lumens had the most divergent pH from luminal superfusates; (b) qualitatively similar results were observed with and without superfusion flow; (c) local mucus gel thickness was a poor predictor of surface pH values; and (d) no channels carrying primary gastric gland fluid through the mucus were observed. The model of gastric defense that includes an alkaline mucus gel and viscous fingering of secreted acid through the mucus may be appropriate at the intragastric pH of the fasted, but not fed, animal.
Shaoyou Chu, Shin Tanaka, Jonathan D. Kaunitz, Marshall H. Montrose