1. The present study was undertaken to determine whether the macrolide antibiotic erythromycin, its stable motilide derivatives ABT 229 and GM 611 and motilin act at the same receptors on intestinal muscle
2. Each compound contracted the longitudinal muscle of the rabbit duodenum in a concentration-dependent manner that was unaffected by 1 μmol/L tetrodotoxin. The potency order (pEC50 values in brackets) was motilin (8.4), ABT 229 (7.6), GM 611 (7.5) and erythromycin (6.0).
3. The motilin receptor antagonists GM 109 and [phe3,leu13]motilin, both shifted the concentration–response curves for each agonist to the right, but did not affect concentration–response relationships for the muscarinic agonist carbachol. Schild regression analysis yielded similar pA2 values for GM 109 (in the range 7.2–7.5) for all agonists. This analysis was not done for [phe3,leu13]motilin, which was a non-competitive antagonist and partial agonist.
4. It is concluded that erythromycin, the motilides and motilin act at the same (motilin) receptor on rabbit duodenal muscle and do not have any detectable actions at other receptors in this preparation.