Migrating motor complex

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Migrating motor complexes (or migrating myoelectric complex or migratory motor complex or migratory myoelectric complex or MMC) are waves of activity that sweep through the intestines in a regular cycle during a fasting state. These motor complexes help trigger peristaltic waves, which facilitate transportation of indigestible substances such as bone, fiber, and foreign bodies from the stomach, through the small intestine, past the ileocecal sphincter, and into the colon. The MMC originates in the stomach roughly every 5 to 10 minutes during the interdigestive phase (between meals) and is responsible for the rumbling experienced when hungry. The MMC lasts for approximately 1 minute.

Morphine, has been found at relatively low doses to stimulate phase III of the migrating motor complex.[1]

Trimebutine is one drug that as part of its therapeutic action causes a premature activation of phase III of the migrating motor complex in the digestive tract.[2]

It also serves to transport bacteria from the small intestine to the large intestine, and to inhibit the migration of colonic bacteria into the terminal ileum.

The MMC is thought to be partially regulated by motilin, which is initiated in the stomach as a response to vagal stimulation, and does not directly depend on extrinsic nerves.


  1. ^ Lewis, TD. (Nov 1999). "Morphine and gastroduodenal motility.". Dig Dis Sci 44 (11): 2178–86. PMID 10573360. 
  2. ^ Hiyama, T.; Yoshihara, M.; Tanaka, S.; Haruma, K.; Chayama, K. (Apr 2009). "Effectiveness of prokinetic agents against diseases external to the gastrointestinal tract.". J Gastroenterol Hepatol 24 (4): 537–46. doi:10.1111/j.1440-1746.2009.05780.x. PMID 19220673. 

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