Evidence For a Pyloro-Cholecystic Reflex for Gallbladder Contraction

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We studied the effect of graded antral distension on gallbladder contraction both when gastrin release was promoted (alkaline distension) and when gastrin release was blocked (acid distension) in five dogs provided with innervated antral pouch, chronic bile fistula and gastric fistula. Graded distension of the antrum caused graded gallbladder contraction as evidenced by bilirubin output even when gastrin release was completely suppressed. This nongastrin mechanism of gallbladder contraction is abolished by parenteral atropine and by trans-thoracic truncal vagotomy. These observations provide evidence for a cholinergic, pyloro-cholecystic reflex for gallbladder contraction that is dependent on intact long vagal pathways. Similar reflex mechanisms have been shown to be initiated by antral distension and to cause pancreatic enzyme secretion (pyloro–pancreatic reflex) or acid secretion from the oxyntic gland area of the stomach (pyloro–oxyntic reflex). It would appear, therefore, that the antrum plays a central role in the integration of upper gastrointestinal function not only through the hormone gastrin but also through neural reflex mechanisms.

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