Inhibitory neurotransmission regulates vagal efferent activity and gastric motility

Caitlin A. McMenamin, R. Alberto Travagli, Kirsteen N. Browning

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The gastrointestinal tract receives extrinsic innervation from both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, which regulate and modulate the function of the intrinsic (enteric) nervous system. The stomach and upper gastrointestinal tract in particular are heavily influenced by the parasympathetic nervous system, supplied by the vagus nerve, and disruption of vagal sensory or motor functions results in disorganized motility patterns, disrupted receptive relaxation and accommodation, and delayed gastric emptying, amongst others. Studies from several laboratories have shown that the activity of vagal efferent motoneurons innervating the upper GI tract is inhibited tonically by GABAergic synaptic inputs from the adjacent nucleus tractus solitarius. Disruption of this influential central GABA input impacts vagal efferent output, hence gastric functions, significantly. The purpose of this review is to describe the development, physiology, and pathophysiology of this functionally dominant inhibitory synapse and its role in regulating vagally determined gastric functions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1343-1350
Number of pages8
JournalExperimental Biology and Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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