Gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD) affects at least 40% of the population. Current treatments for GERD do not prevent reflux of gastric contents. Problems associated with GERD include the minor inconveniences of heartburn to the lethal complications of aspirational pneumonia in infancy and esophageal adenocarcinoma in adulthood. Our central hypothesis of this proposal is that a defect in the gastric clasp/sling muscle fiber complex is the underlying etiology of GERD. Our objectives are to identify receptors on the muscles and the nerves innervating these muscles that are implicated as causing GERD. Our focus is to use this information to develop new pharmacologic treatments targeting these receptors and impacting positively on the public health and health care expenditures.
Aim 1 : Test the hypothesis that GERD patients have different responses of the gastric sling/clasp muscle fiber complex than normal volunteers without GERD and that these responses result in reflux. We measure and compare differences between normal volunteers and GERD patients using two different approaches. The first approach uses simultaneous high-resolution ultrasonography and vector volume manometry before and after pharmacologic manipulation to inhibit the smooth muscle component (atropine) augment the smooth muscle component (bethanechol) or paralyze the skeletal muscle component (cisatracurium) of the GEJHPZ. The second approach uses simultaneous endoscopy and stationary high resolution manometry during gastric distension to determine the volume and pressure distension threshold for TLESRs before and after this pharmacologic manipulation.
Aim 2 : Test the hypothesis that both complete (Nissen) and 270: (Toupet) fundoplication procedures reduce reflux by strengthening the defective sling/clasp muscle fiber complex through tonic muscarinic receptor mediated tension of the gastric smooth muscle in the wrap of the fundoplication. We will compare GERD patients undergoing these 2 procedures to patients without GERD undergoing non-esophageal surgery. We will evaluate degree of GERD using both validated GERD questionnaires and Bravo(R) esophageal pH monitoring before surgery and at 1 and 3 months post operatively. GEJHPZ will be evaluated using: 1) simultaneous high-resolution ultrasonography and vector volume manometry with this pharmacologic manipulation and 2) simultaneous endoscopy and stationary high resolution manometry during gastric distension to determine volume and pressure distension threshold for TLESRs and temporal sequence of opening of the various components of the GEJHPZ.
Aim 3 : Test the hypothesis that there is a difference in contractility of the gastric sling/clasp muscle fiber complex between subjects with and without GERD. We compare the neurotransmitters and receptors responsible for in-vitro contraction and relaxation of smooth muscle strips from whole gastro esophageal specimens obtained from organ transplant donors with and without GERD. We compare responses between the following muscle strips: gastric sling muscle fibers, gastric clasp muscle fibers, lower esophageal circular muscle fibers, mid esophageal circular muscle fibers, and longitudinal esophageal muscle fibers.

Public Health Relevance

Gastro esophageal reflux affects at least 40% of the population. Although effective symptomatic acid suppressive treatments for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are available, they do not prevent reflux of gastric contents. The goal of this proposal is to define the role of the various components of the gastroesophageal high-pressure zone, in particular the gastric sling-clasp fiber complex, in the pathogenesis of GERD.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Research Project (R01)
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Clinical, Integrative and Molecular Gastroenterology Study Section (CIMG)
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Hamilton, Frank A
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Temple University
Schools of Medicine
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Miller, Larry; Vegesna, Anil; Ruggieri, Michael et al. (2016) Normal and abnormal physiology, pharmacology, and anatomy of the gastroesophageal junction high-pressure zone. Ann N Y Acad Sci 1380:48-57
Miller, L S; Vegesna, A K; Braverman, A S et al. (2014) Enhanced nicotinic receptor mediated relaxations in gastroesophageal muscle fibers from Barrett's esophagus patients. Neurogastroenterol Motil 26:430-9
Vegesna, Anil K; Patel, Hemal; Weissman, Samuel et al. (2014) Defective mucosal movement at the gastroesophageal junction in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease. Dig Dis Sci 59:1870-7
Ruggieri Sr, M R; Braverman, A S; Vegesna, A K et al. (2014) Nicotinic receptor subtypes mediating relaxation of the normal human clasp and sling fibers of the upper gastric sphincter. Neurogastroenterol Motil 26:1015-25
Brown, Justin M; Barbe, Mary F; Albo, Michael E et al. (2013) Anatomical feasibility of performing a nerve transfer from the femoral branch to bilateral pelvic nerves in a cadaver: a potential method to restore bladder function following proximal spinal cord injury. J Neurosurg Spine 18:598-605
Vegesna, A K; Sloan, J A; Singh, B et al. (2013) Characterization of the distal esophagus high-pressure zone with manometry, ultrasound and micro-computed tomography. Neurogastroenterol Motil 25:53-60.e6
Miller, Larry; Clavé, Pere; Farré, Ricard et al. (2013) Physiology of the upper segment, body, and lower segment of the esophagus. Ann N Y Acad Sci 1300:261-277
Ruggieri, Michael R; Braverman, Alan S (2013) Gastric body cholinergic contractile signal transduction in M2 and M3 receptor knockout mice. J Recept Signal Transduct Res 33:249-54
Miller, Larry S; Vegesna, Anil K; Sampath, Aiswerya Madanam et al. (2012) Ileocecal valve dysfunction in small intestinal bacterial overgrowth: a pilot study. World J Gastroenterol 18:6801-8
Vegesna, Anil K; Chuang, Keng-Yu; Besetty, Ramashesai et al. (2012) Circular smooth muscle contributes to esophageal shortening during peristalsis. World J Gastroenterol 18:4317-22

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