• antral peristalsis;
  • electrical vagal stimulation;
  • frequency–dependency;
  • gastric pressure;
  • in vitro stomach;
  • receptive relaxation;
  • vagus

AbstractOur aim was to evaluate topographically specific gastric motility changes induced by graded vagal activation. A recently developed method of constructing spatio-temporal maps of motility from video movies was adapted to the in vitro perfused guinea-pig stomach with an intact vagal nerve supply. In the unstimulated preparation, spontaneous activity was low or absent. Bilateral vagal stimulation with frequencies as low as 0.2 Hz triggered weak anally, and in some cases orally, propagating antral contractions at rates of about 5–6 min−1. Upon stimulation with higher frequencies, antral contractions increased significantly in length (starting more proximally) and amplitude, and produced large pressure peaks of up to 25 hPa, with maximal effects at 2–4 Hz. In contrast, the speed of propagation and the interval between peristaltic waves did not change with vagal stimulation at any frequency. Vagal stimulation also produced a significant and frequency-dependent enlargement of the fundus with a maximal effect at 4 Hz. It is concluded that a very low tonic vagal activity is apparently necessary and sufficient to express basic antral motility, while more sustained vagal activity is necessary for high-amplitude gastric contractions and significant sustained fundic relaxation. The constant interval between propagating contractions supports the concept that vagal input impinges on intrinsic enteric neural circuits that have a modulatory role in the myogenic mechanism underlying slow-wave peristalsis, rather than directly on gastric musculature.