In this study, we describe new methods for recording gastric emptying and in vivo measurements of intragastric pressure in fish. Using these methods, we investigated the effects of the sulphated octapeptide of cholecystokinin (CCK8) on gastric emptying and on stomach motility in vivo and in vitro. Gastric emptying of 99Tcm-labelled food was measured in swimming fish by using a gamma camera, counting consecutive 2.5 min periods for 18–42 h. After 20 h, 55.3+/−4.0 % of the labelled food remained in the stomach of the control fish (mean s.e.m., N=9). Vascular infusion of CCK8 (25 pmol kg-1 h-1) delayed gastric emptying so that 70.4+/−4.8 % of the labelled food remained in the stomach after 20 h (N=8). Gastric pressure changes in vivo were measured using a balloon surgically fitted into the cardiac or pyloric part of the stomach. In the cardiac part, intra-arterial infusion of CCK8 at 0.1 nmol kg-1 h-1 resulted in a decrease in the frequency and amplitude of rhythmic contractions, while higher doses started/increased contractions. Atropine blocked much of the basal contractile activity, but did not influence the CCK8-induced inhibition of contractile activity. The pyloric part of the stomach was unaffected by intra-arterial infusion of CCK8 or atropine. In vitro perfusion of the stomach (with a balloon placed in the cardiac part to record motility) with CCK8 at high concentrations (10(−7)mol l-1 and above) augmented the spontaneous contractions, while lower concentrations had inconsistent effects. In addition, CCK8 (10(−7) to 10(−6)mol l-1) decreased the amplitude of spontaneous contractions in longitudinal strip preparations, usually in combination with an increase in the resting tension. The decrease in amplitude was not affected by the nitric oxide synthase inhibitor NG-nitro-l-arginine methyl ester hydrochloride (L-NAME; 10(−4)mol l-1). Depending on the concentration and experimental arrangement, CCK8 had either inhibitory or excitatory effects on the cardiac stomach, suggesting the possible presence of different types of CCK receptor. We conclude that the predominant effect of CCK8 in vivo may be a slowing down of gastric emptying, presumably coinciding with a release of bile into the duodenum.

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