1. Hyperglycaemia alters gastric motility and delays gastric emptying. By contrast, there is little information regarding the effect of sub-normal blood glucose concentrations on gastric and, in particular, pyloric motility, although limited data suggest that hypoglycaemia is associated with accelerated gastric emptying despite an apparently increased basal pyloric pressure.

2. To determine the effects of hypoglycaemia on pyloric motility, we compared the effects of an intravenous injection of insulin (0.15 units/kg) with those of a placebo injection of saline in eight healthy human volunteers during phase I of the interdigestive migrating motor complex.

3. All subjects developed profound hypoglycaemia (mean blood glucose concentration 1.6 mmol/l compared with 4.0 mmol/l in the control group).

4. There was no significant difference in the number of antral (9 versus 7, P = 0.34), pyloric (3 versus 0, P = 0.31) or duodenal (21 versus 13, P = 0.42) pressure waves or in the basal pyloric pressure (0.3 mmHg versus 0.1 mmHg, P = 0.37) in the 45 min after insulin injection (hypoglycaemia) when compared with the 45 min after saline injection (euglycaemia). In both the euglycaemic and hypoglycaemic studies there was a time-dependent increase in the numbers of antral and duodenal waves consistent with the expected changes in the interdigestive migrating motor complex.

5. These results indicate that insulin-induced hypoglycaemia has no significant effect on pyloric motility during phase I of the interdigestive migrating motor complex.

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