Roles of gastro-oesophageal afferents in the mechanisms and symptoms of reflux disease

Amanda J. Page, L. Ashley Blackshaw

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Oesophageal pain is one of the most common reasons for physician consultation and/or seeking medication. It is most often caused by acid reflux from the stomach, but can also result from contractions of the oesophageal muscle. Different forms of pain are evoked by oesophageal acid, including heartburn and non-cardiac chest pain, but the basic mechanisms and pathways by which these are generated remain to be elucidated. Both vagal and spinal afferent pathways are implicated by basic research. The sensitivity of afferent fibres within these pathways may become altered after acid-induced inflammation and damage, but the severity of symptoms in humans does not necessarily correlate with the degree of inflammation. Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) is caused by transient relaxations of the lower oesophageal sphincter, which are triggered by activation of gastric vagal mechanoreceptors. Vagal afferents are therefore an emerging therapeutic target for GORD. Pain in the absence of excess acid reflux remains a major challenge for treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Experimental Pharmacology
EditorsBrendan Canning, Domenico Spina
Number of pages31
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 2009
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameHandbook of Experimental Pharmacology
ISSN (Print)0171-2004


  • Gastro-oesophageal reflux
  • Lower oesophageal sphincter
  • Vagal afferents
  • Visceral pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)

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