Background & aims: Fatty acids induce cholecystokinin (CCK) secretion and modify gastric motility, but the chain length requirements for these effects are not known. Nor is it clear whether the effects of fatty acids on gastric motility in humans are CCK mediated or directly exerted. The aim of this study was to determine the role of fatty acyl chain length in CCK secretion and in influencing gastric motility.
Methods: Fatty acids were infused into the upper gut in healthy volunteers; plasma CCK was determined by radioimmunoassay. Effects of fatty acids on antral contractility were determined by percutaneous ultrasonography; effects on proximal gastric tone were studied during fundal distention.
Results: Plasma CCK concentration was consistently and similarly elevated by fatty acids with a chain of 12 carbon atoms or longer, whereas those of 11 or fewer carbon atoms failed to increase plasma CCK. A 12-carbon but not a 10-carbon-long chain fatty acid reduced antral contractile amplitude, an effect that was abolished by loxiglumide (a specific CCK-A receptor antagonist). The 12-carbon fatty acid also reduced proximal gastric tone more than the 10-carbon fatty acid.
Conclusions: A highly specific, chain length-sensitive fatty acid recognition system exists in the proximal gut mediating CCK secretion and gastric motility. An additional, probably CCK-independent, effect of fatty acid also regulates proximal gastric tone.