Prostaglandins (PGs) are synthesised by gastric mucosa, and have been shown to inhibit gastric acid secretion and ulcer formation in man and experimental animals. Recently exogenous PGs, mainly of the E group, have been used for the treatment of peptic ulcer disease. We therefore searched for a drug that would stimulate endogenous gastric prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) synthesis. Rabbit gastric mucosa slices were cultured for 22 hours at 77°C. PGE2, measured by radioimmunoassay, was found to be linearly secreted into the culture medium. PGE2 accumulation in the medium during 22 hours of culture was 7·9±0·5 (SE) ng/mg tissue (N=20). Addition of papaverine (100 μ/ml), a cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase inhibitor, resulted in a significant increase (250% of control) in PGE2 accumulation in the medium: 24·3±1·8 ng/mg tissue (N=25). Isobutylmethylxanthine (IBMX 100 μg/ml), another phosphodiesterase inhibitor, only slightly increased PGE2 accumulation, while 8 bromo-cyclic AMP (1 mM) had no effect. Under these conditions IBMX increased by 20-fold mucosal cyclic AMP levels: 3·9±0·3 pmol/mg tissue (N=8) as compared with control levels: 0·2±0·03 pmol/mg tissue (N=8). Papaverine, however, did not alter mucosal cyclic AMP accumulation. These results indicate that papaverine stimulates PGE2 production by cultured rabbit gastric mucosa and that this stimulation is not related to the inhibition of phosphodiesterase activity and accumulation of mucosal cyclic AMP. Papaverine induced stimulation of PGE2 production should be further evaluated regarding its possible beneficial effects in protecting gastric mucosa and in reducing acid secretion in peptic ulcer patients.
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