To evaluate the neural regulation of postprandial somatostatin release we studied the effect of blockade of (a) alpha-adrenergic and beta-adrenergic and (b) cholinergic receptors on the plasma somatostatin, gastrin and insulin responses to a standard meal in two groups of five fasting healthy male volunteers. Thymoxamine (0.1 mg/kg iv over two minutes then 10 mg/hour for two hours) and propranolol (0.15 mg/kg iv over two minutes, then 0.75 mg/kg/hour for two hours) were started just before eating while atropine (0.04 mg/kg/im) was given at 15 minutes on completion of the meal. There was a prompt and sustained rise in plasma somatostatin after a control meal in all experiments. This rise was arrested by atropine but not altered by either thymoxamine or propranolol. The plasma gastrin response to a meal was moderately enhanced by thymoxamine and markedly enhanced by atropine. Postprandial insulin release was not affected by alpha- or beta-adrenergic blockade but was abolished by atropine. The effect of atropine on the postprandial plasma somatostatin rise might have been mediated through reduction in gastric acidity or delay in gastric emptying. Hence we gave five fasting male volunteers and intraduodenal infusion of fat emulsion (25 calories in 30 minutes) on two occasions both alone and after atropine. Plasma somatostatin rose during the fat infusion alone and this rise was abolished by atropine. These data suggest that (a) cholinergic but not adrenergic mechanisms are important modulators of plasma somatostatin release after orally ingested and intraduodenally infused nutrients (b) atropine abolishes plasma somatostatin release independently of its effects on gastric acidity and motility and (c) are consistent with the hypothesis that atropine potentiates postprandial gastrin release through reduction of somatostatin mediated inhibition.
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