Gastric sensitivity and reflexes: Basic mechanisms underlying clinical problems

Fernando Azpiroz, Christine Feinle-Bisset, David Grundy, Jan Tack

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Both reflex and sensory mechanisms control the function of the stomach, and disturbances in these mechanisms may explain the pathophysiology of disorders of gastric function. The objective of this report is to perform a literature-based critical analysis of new, relevant or conflicting information on gastric sensitivity and reflexes, with particular emphasis on the comprehensive integration of basic and clinical research data. The stomach exerts both phasic and tonic muscular (contractile and relaxatory) activity. Gastric tone determines the capacity of the stomach and mediates both gastric accommodation to a meal as well as gastric emptying, by partial relaxation or progressive recontraction, respectively. Perception and reflex afferent pathways from the stomach are activated independently by specific stimuli, suggesting that the terminal nerve endings operate as specialized receptors. Particularly, perception appears to be related to stimulation of tension receptors, while the existence of volume receptors in the stomach is uncertain. Reliable techniques have been developed to measure gastric perception and reflexes both in experimental and clinical conditions, and have facilitated the identification of abnormal responses in patients with gastric disorders. Gastroparesis is characterised by impaired gastric tone and contractility, whereas patients with functional dyspepsia have impaired accommodation, associated with antral distention and increased gastric sensitivity. An integrated view of fragmented knowledge allows the design of pathophysiological models in an attempt to explain disorders of gastric function, and may facilitate the development of mechanistically orientated treatments. © 2013 Springer Japan.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)206-218
JournalJournal of Gastroenterology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2014


  • Abdominal pain
  • Antral peristalsis
  • Functional dyspepsia
  • Gastric accommodation
  • Gastric motility
  • Gastric receptors
  • Gastric reflexes
  • Gastric sensitivity
  • Gastric tone
  • Gastroparesis


Dive into the research topics of 'Gastric sensitivity and reflexes: Basic mechanisms underlying clinical problems'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this