Abstract- The aim of this study was to determine whether nitric oxide can play a role in regulating the propagation of spontaneous motor activity in a rabbit intestinal preparation completely excluded from any central and vascular connection. Experiments were done on nine rabbits of either sex, weighing 2.5 +/- 0.5 kg (mean +/- SD). After one week of semiliquid diet the animals were sacrificed and a segment including the stomach, duodenum and part of the jejunum was removed and placed into a single chamber organ bath containing 1 L of oxygenated Krebs' solution. Four strain gauges connected to a Dynograph Recorder were sutured on the serosal surface 10 cm apart starting from the gastric antrum to the distal duodenum. Once the motor activity was stabilized, N-nitro-L-arginine methyl-ester (L-NAME) was added to the bath at increasing concentration from 10(-7) to 10(-4) M. Spontaneous motor activity was recorded, characterized by the cycling occurrence of bursts of waves, starting from the stomach and propagating to the descending duodenum. L-NAME at higher concentrations reduced the time interval between the bursts of waves with a concomitant increase in the propagation velocity of the motor activity. No change in the frequency of waves was detected. The effect of L-NAME was prevented by the administration of L-Arginine. This study suggests an important role for the nitric oxide pathway in the distal propagation of the spontaneous motor activity of the alimentary tract.
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