Background & aims: Intestinal reflexes induced by distention in dogs are facilitated by either simultaneous or previous distentions. The aim of this study was to determine whether these phenomena also modulate the responses to intestinal distention, particularly perception, in humans.
Methods: Perception and intestinal relaxation were measured in 11 healthy subjects in response to increasing jejunal balloon distentions tested (by stimulus-response trials) alone, as control, and with conditioning distentions applied either simultaneously, immediately (10 seconds) before at the same site, or immediately before and 5 cm distant. In 8 additional subjects, the effect of prolonged (90-minute) conditioning distention was tested.
Results: Conditioning had more pronounced effects on perception than on intestinal reflexes. Perception of intestinal distention increased (by 84 +/- 47%; P < 0.05) when a simultaneous distention was applied nearby. By contrast, perception decreased (by 38 +/- 12%; P < 0.05) when a previous distention was applied at the same but not at an adjacent site. Prolonged intestinal distention elicited remarkably stable perception during a 90-minute period. The effects of conditioning were unrelated to intestinal compliance because it remained unchanged.
Conclusions: In humans, temporospatial interactions of gut stimuli activate modulatory phenomena that determine the perception intensity of the stimuli.