An intravenous bolus of pentagastrin significantly increased the amplitude and duration of oesophageal body contractions in seven patients with diffuse oesophageal spasm (DES) when compared with five normal subjects (P greater than 0.05). In order to determine whether this stimulation also occurred at physiological gastrin concentrations, the effect of an intravenous infusion of gastrin heptadecapeptide (G17), 25 pmol/kg-h, on oesophageal contractions was studied in DES patients. G17 had no significant effect on the amplitude and duration of oesophageal contractions compared with a saline control. This dose of G17 was near the D50 for gastric acid secretion and produced a rise in serum gastrin concentration comparable with a meal. G17 infusions at doses of 100 and 200 pmol/kg-h increased the amplitude and duration of oesophageal contractions, but the corresponding serum gastrin concentrations were higher than postprandial levels. Thus, endogenous fluctuations in serum gastrin heptadecapeptide, alone, are unlikely to alter oesophageal contractions in DES patients.
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