• 1
    Distension-sensitive vagal afferent fibres from the cardiac region of the guinea-pig stomach were recorded extracellularly, then filled with biotinamide, using an anterograde tracing technique.
  • 2
    Most of the stretch-sensitive units of the guinea-pig stomach (41 out of 47; number of animals N= 26) had low thresholds (less than 1 mm) to circumferential stretch and showed slow adaptation. Twenty of these units fired spontaneously under resting conditions (mean: 1.9 ± 0.3 Hz, n = 20, N = 14).
  • 3
    Adaptation of firing during slow or maintained stretch correlated closely with accommodation of intramural tension, but tension-independent adaptation was also present.
  • 4
    Nicardipine (3 μm) with hyoscine (3 μm) reduced stretch-evoked firing of gastric vagal afferents, by inhibiting smooth muscle contraction. Gadolinium (1 mm) blocked distension-evoked firing.
  • 5
    Focal stimulation of the stomach muscle wall with a von Frey hair (0.4 mN) identified one to six punctate receptive fields in each low threshold vagal distension-sensitive afferent. These were marked on the serosal surface of the stomach wall.
  • 6
    Anterograde filling of recorded nerve trunks revealed intraganglionic laminar endings (IGLEs) within 142 ± 34 μm (n = 38; N = 10) of marked receptive fields. The mean distance from randomly generated sites to the nearest IGLE was significantly greater (1500 ± 48 μm, n = 380, N = 10, P < 0.0001). Viscerofugal nerve cell bodies, intramuscular arrays and varicose axons were not associated with receptive fields. The results indicate that IGLEs are the mechanotransduction sites of low threshold, slowly adapting vagal tension receptors in the guinea-pig upper stomach.