Mechanism of cycling of migrating myoelectric complexes: Effect of morphine

S. Sarna, P. Northcott, L. Belbeck

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85 Scopus citations


Morphine was injected intravenously at various phases of the migrating myoelectric complex (MMC) cycle to study the oscillatory characteristics of MMCs by the premature initiation of phage IIIs. All injection timings were represented as a percentage of the normal MMC period at the most proximal duodenal electrode. During the initial 20% of the MC cycle, the mechanism of initiation of MCs was in an absolutely refractory state in the sense that a supramaximal dose of morphine (200-300 μg/kg) did not initiate a premature phase III. During the remainder of the MMC cycle, the control mechanism was in a relatively refractory state. As this state progressed, premature phase III activity was initiated with diminishing doses of morphine. This was called the relatively refractory state. The initiation of a premature phase III by morphine did not affect the phase III already in progress, except that its propagation velocity was increased. Truncal vagotomy did not affect the refractory characteristics of MMCs or the action of morphine. Only large doses of naloxone (2 mg/kg) blocked the above action of morphine. The study shows that the MMC cyclic phenomenon has the characteristics of relaxation oscillators that may result from enteric neural biological clocks. The period of these oscillators can be altered by stimulants such as morphine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)G588-G595
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1982
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Physiology (medical)


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