A novel effect of bismuth ions: selective inhibition of the biological activity of glycine-extended gastrin

J Biol Chem. 2004 Jan 23;279(4):2453-60. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M309806200. Epub 2003 Oct 6.


Although bismuth salts have been used for over two centuries for the treatment of various gastrointestinal disorders, the mechanism of their therapeutic action remains controversial. Because gastrins bind two trivalent ferric ions with high affinity, and because ferric ions are essential for the biological activity of glycine-extended gastrin 17, we have investigated the hypothesis that trivalent bismuth ions influence the biological activity of gastrins. Binding of bismuth ions to gastrins was measured by fluorescence quenching and NMR spectroscopy. The effects of bismuth ions on gastrin-stimulated biological activities were measured in inositol phosphate, cell proliferation, and cell migration assays. Fluorescence quenching experiments indicated that both glycine-extended and amidated gastrin 17 bound two bismuth ions. The NMR spectral changes observed on addition of bismuth ions revealed that Glu-7 acted as a ligand at the first bismuth ion binding site. In the presence of bismuth ions the ability of glycine-extended gastrin 17 to stimulate inositol phosphate production, cell proliferation, and cell migration was markedly reduced. In contrast, bismuth ions had little effect on the affinity of the CCK-2 receptor for amidated gastrin 17, or on the stimulation of inositol phosphate production by amidated gastrin 17. We conclude that bismuth ions may act, at least in part, by blocking the effects of glycine-extended gastrin 17 on cell proliferation and cell migration in the gastrointestinal tract. This is the first report of a specific inhibitory effect of bismuth ions on the action of a gastrointestinal hormone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bismuth* / pharmacology
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Digestive System / drug effects
  • Digestive System / metabolism
  • Gastrins / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Gastrins / chemistry
  • Glycine
  • Humans


  • Gastrins
  • Glycine
  • Bismuth