Myogenic mechanism for peristalsis in opossum smooth muscle esophagus

J. F. Helm, S. L. Bro, W. J. Dodds, S. K. Sarna, R. G. Hoffmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


We studied the propagation of phasic contractions initiated by tetraethylammonium (TEA, 1-10 mM), high K+ concentration (10-30 mM), and bethanechol (10-6 to 10-2 M) in a whole organ in vitro preparation of the opossum smooth muscle esophagus. TEA initiated phasic contractions that began at all sites along the smooth muscle esophagus and propagated in both directions with a velocity similar to that of primary peristalsis. Blockade of neural transmission by tetrodotoxin (TTX, 10-7 M) did not prevent contraction propagation. Although a majority of contractions initiated by TEA did not propagate the full length of the esophageal specimen, with the addition of TTX most contractions initiated by TEA did propagate the full specimen length in either direction. High K+ concentration and bethanechol elicited propagated contractions similar to those initiated by TEA. We conclude that 1) a myogenic mechanism exists for propagation of contractions along the smooth muscle esophagus and 2) intramural inhibitory nerves modulate the extent of myogenic propagation in the ascending as well as descending direction. We suggest that esophageal peristalsis may occur by myogenic propagation of contractions that are normally initiated in the proximal smooth muscle esophagus by excitatory nerves. Intramural inhibitory nerves may inhibit retrograde propagation as well as mediate descending inhibition in advance of the peristaltic wave.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)G953-G959
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number6 26-6
StatePublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • bethanechol
  • motility
  • tetraethylammonium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Gastroenterology


Dive into the research topics of 'Myogenic mechanism for peristalsis in opossum smooth muscle esophagus'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this