To evaluate whether the general trophic effect of gastrin on the oxyntic mucosa is an indirect effect mediated by histamine H2 receptors, sustained 24 hour hypergastrinaemia was induced in Sprague-Dawley rats by treatment with the long acting and potent histamine H2 antagonist loxtidine for five months. The trophic effect was assessed by weight, enumeration of total mucosal cells, parietal cells, and enterochromaffin like cells in smears stained for the actual cells after enzymatic dispersion of the mucosa, and by biochemical analysis of oxyntic mucosal homogenates. The weight of the whole stomach and the oxyntic mucosa increased by 12.7% (p = 0.016) and 27.5% (p = 0.006), respectively. Total oxyntic mucosal protein content increased by 28.7% (p = 0.058). Total numbers of mucosal cells and parietal cells increased by 11.9% (NS) and 24.1% (NS), respectively. The amount of the parietal cell specific enzyme H+,K(+)-ATPase was unchanged. On the other hand, the number of enterochromaffin like cells and related parameters, histidine decarboxylase activity and histamine content of the oxyntic mucosa, showed a pronounced and significant increase. It is concluded that the general trophic effect of gastrin on the oxyntic mucosa is not mediated by the histamine H2 receptor. The tropic effect of gastrin on the parietal cell seems, in contrast with that on the enterochromaffin like cell, not to be specific but only reflecting the general trophic effect on the oxyntic mucosa.
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