In whole segments of rabbit distal colon with mucosa removed, descending reflex relaxations of the circular muscle (descending inhibition) elicited by inflating (0.1-1 ml) an intraluminal balloon, were partially antagonized by 100 microM hexamethonium and the 5-HT3 receptor antagonist, ondansetron (3 microM), and abolished by 1 microM tetrodotoxin. The inhibitory effects of hexamethonium and ondansetron were additive. Conversely, hexamethonium (100 microM) and ondansetron (3 microM) failed to reduce electrically induced non-adrenergic non-cholinergic (NANC) relaxations of colonic circular muscle. It is concluded that interneuronally released acetylcholine and 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) activate descending inhibitory pathways supplying the circular coat, via nicotinic and 5-HT3 receptors, respectively. This evidence suggests a functional involvement of 5-hydroxytryptaminergic transmission in the descending inhibition of rabbit colon.
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