Nervous Control of Gastrointestinal Blood Flow

Stimulation of the parasympathetic nerves going to the stomach and lower colon increases local blood flow at the same time that it increases glandular secretion. This increased flow probably results secondarily from the increased glandular activity and not as a direct effect of the nervous stimulation.

Sympathetic stimulation, by contrast, has a direct effect on essentially all the gastrointestinal tract to cause intense vasoconstriction of the arterioles with greatly decreased blood flow. After a few minutes of this vasoconstriction, the flow often returns almost to normal by means of a mechanism called "autoregula-tory escape." That is, the local metabolic vasodilator mechanisms that are elicited by ischemia become prepotent over the sympathetic vasoconstriction and, therefore, redilate the arterioles, thus causing return of necessary nutrient blood flow to the gastrointestinal glands and muscle.

Central lacteal

Blood capillaries

Vein

Artery

Figure 62-8

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