Vagal afferent pathway mediates physiological action of cholecystokinin on pancreatic enzyme secretion

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)418-424
Journal / PublicationJournal of Clinical Investigation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 1993
Externally publishedYes


To establish the mechanism(s) and site(s) of action of cholecystokinin (CCK) on pancreatic secretion under physiological conditions, we used an in vivo model using anesthetized rats with pancreaticobiliary cannulas. Infusion of CCK-8 (10-160 pmol/kg per h) produced a dose-dependent increase in plasma CCK levels. CCK-8 infusion at 40 pmol/kg per h produced a plasma CCK level of 7.9±1.5 pM and an 80% increase in pancreatic protein output over basal. This level was closely approximated by a postprandial peak plasma CCK level by 6.2±1.1 pM. Pretreatment with atropine or hexamethonium completely abolished pancreatic protein response to low doses of CCK-8 (10-40 pmol/kg per h) but had only partial effect on doses > 40 pmol/kg per h. Bilateral vagotomy also abolished the pancreatic responses to low doses of CCK-8. Similarly perivagal treatment with a sensory neurotoxin, capsaicin, caused a complete inhibition of pancreatic protein secretion in response to CCK-8 infusion. In contrast, pancreatic protein responses to bethanechol were similar in control and capsaicin-treated rats. In separate studies we demonstrated that gastroduodenal but not jejunal application of capsaicin for 30 min abolished pancreatic protein secretion in response to physiological doses of CCK-8. In conclusion, CCK at physiological levels stimulates pancreatic enzyme secretion via a capsaicin-sensitive afferent vagal pathway originating from the gastroduodenal mucosa. © The American Society for Clinical Investigation, Inc.

Research Area(s)

  • Atropine, Capsaicin, Cholecystokinin, Pancreatic secretion, Vagal afferent pathway, Vagotomy