The dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus and regulation of pancreatic secretory function

Exp Physiol. 2013 Jan;98(1):25-37. doi: 10.1113/expphysiol.2012.066472. Epub 2012 Jun 1.


Recent investigation of the factors and pathways that are involved in regulation of pancreatic secretory function (PSF) has led to development of a pancreatic vagovagal reflex model. This model consists of three elements, including pancreatic vagal afferents, the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus (DMV) and pancreatic vagal efferents. The DMV has been recognized as a major component of this model and so this review focuses on the role of this nucleus in regulation of PSF. Classically, the control of the PSF has been viewed as being dependent on gastrointestinal hormones and vagovagal reflex pathways. However, recent studies have suggested that these two mechanisms act synergistically to mediate pancreatic secretion. The DMV is the major source of vagal motor output to the pancreas, and this output is modulated by various neurotransmitters and synaptic inputs from other central autonomic regulatory circuits, including the nucleus of the solitary tract. Endogenously occurring excitatory (glutamate) and inhibitory amino acids (GABA) have a marked influence on DMV vagal output to the pancreas. In addition, a variety of neurotransmitters and receptors for gastrointestinal peptides and hormones have been localized in the DMV, emphasizing the direct and indirect involvement of this nucleus in control of PSF.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Afferent Pathways / physiology
  • Cholecystokinin / physiology
  • Efferent Pathways / physiology
  • Ghrelin / metabolism
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Motor Neurons / physiology
  • Nitric Oxide / physiology
  • Pancreas / metabolism*
  • Pancreatic Polypeptide / metabolism
  • Parasympathetic Nervous System / physiology*
  • Reflex
  • Serotonin / physiology
  • Thyrotropin-Releasing Hormone / metabolism
  • Vagus Nerve / physiology*


  • Ghrelin
  • Insulin
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Serotonin
  • Pancreatic Polypeptide
  • Thyrotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1
  • Cholecystokinin