Background & aims: Studies in health have shown that tension-sensitive mechanoreceptors mediate sensitivity to gastric distention. A role for these mechanoreceptors in perception or symptoms in hypersensitive functional dyspepsia (FD) has not been established. Tension-sensitive mechanoreceptors are activated during phasic contractions and inactivated during gastric relaxation. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether hypersensitive FD patients perceive spontaneous changes in fundic wall tension and whether fundus-relaxing drugs decrease sensitivity to gastric distention and meal-related symptoms.
Methods: Fifty patients were selected after a barostat study established gastric hypersensitivity. In 12 patients, an intragastric balloon was inflated with a fixed volume just below perception thresholds and patients were asked to indicate changes in perception on a keypad, and the relationship between perception and contractions was analyzed. In 20 patients, we studied the influence of the fundus-relaxing drug sumatriptan on sensitivity to gastric distention. In, respectively, 10 and 8 patients, we studied the influence of the fundus-relaxing drugs sumatriptan and clonidine on meal-related symptoms.
Results: The majority of patients had a statistically significant association between perception and phasic isovolumetric contractions. Pretreatment with sumatriptan increased both pressures and volumes needed to induce first perception and discomfort. Pretreatment with sumatriptan and clonidine both significantly decreased meal-induced symptoms.
Conclusions: Patients with hypersensitivity to gastric distention perceive isovolumetric phasic contractions of the proximal stomach. Fundus-relaxing drugs decrease sensitivity to gastric distention and decrease meal-induced symptoms in these patients. The findings are compatible with involvement of tension mechanoreceptors in symptom generation in hypersensitive FD.