The smooth muscle sphincter enveloping the terminal portion of the common bile duct in the opossum exhibits spontaneous electrical activity and simultaneous rhythmic contractions. The aim of our study was to define the influence of four gastrointestinal hormones on biliary sphincter electrical and mechanical activity. An array of five monopolar extracellular electrodes was placed along the opossum choledochal sphincteric smooth muscle and contiguous duodenum. A catheter in continuity with a pressure transducer, drop counter, and saline reservoir was placed in the common duct for simultaneous measurement of ductal pressure and flow. The cystic and distal common hepatic ducts were then ligated to isolate the common bile duct from the gallbladder and liver. In each opossum, biliary sphincteric and duodenal myoelectric activity, common bile duct and gallbladder pressure, and common duct flow were recorded simultaneously before and after the intravenous administration of five different doses of an enteric hormone. Ten animals were given 0.1-10.0 international dog units per kilogram body wt of cholecystokinin, 10 received 0.01-1.00 μg/kg body wt of cholecystokinin-octapeptide, 10 were given 0.1-10.0 μg/kg body wt of secretin, and 5 were given 0.1-10.0 μg/kg body wt of pentagastrin. Cholecystokinin, cholecystokinin-octapeptide, and pentagastrin all effected a significant increase in sphincter electrical spike activity and common duct pressure with a decrease in common duct flow. This contractile response was consistent at a wide range of hormonal levels. Secretin had little effect on biliary pressure, flow, and myoelectric activity. The data lend support to the concept that cholecystokinin and gastrin contract the biliary sphincter, metering bile flow at the time of gallbladder emptying in the opossum.
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