The effects of cholinergic stimulation on esophageal peristalsis were studied in normal subjects. An intraesophageal transducer assembly was used to measure the dynamics of esophageal peristalsis before and after edrophonium chloride, 80 mug/kg intravenously. Following endrophonium, there was a marked increase in amplitude of esophageal persistalsis associated with a significant reduction in velocity of esophageal peristalsis and a significant increase in width and time of appearance of the contraction wave following a swallow. Graded doses of endrophonium all resulted in significant increases in peristaltic amplitude with the maximal response occurring at doses of 80 and 160 mug/kg. Similar results were obtained with a more direct-acting cholinergic agent, bethanechol, 80 mug/kg subcutaneously. The relevance of these results as an indication of the importance of cholinergic innervation in regulating esophageal motility are discussed.
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