What is Cholecystokinin?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 11 September 2019
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Cholecystokinin or CCK is a hormone produced by the digestive tract, mostly in the small intestine. It plays a role in the digestion of proteins and fats, and it also has an effect on the brain and vagus nerve, generating feelings of satiety which are designed to shut down the appetite once someone has eaten enough. In addition to being produced naturally by the body, this hormone is sometimes injected for the purpose of diagnostic tests.

One of the major actions of this hormone is on the gall bladder. In fact, the name “cholecystokinin” means “moving the gall bladder,” referencing the fact that this hormone causes the gallbladder to contract, stimulating it to release bile into the digestive tract. Cholecystokinin also stimulates the body to produce more bile, along with digestive enzymes. The digestive tract produces the hormones when fats are detected.

Studies seem to suggest that cholecystokinin may play a role in the development of drug dependence and tolerance, in addition to acting in the brain to produce feelings of anxiety and nausea. Like many hormones, cholecystokinin is very complicated, and it acts in a number of ways to produce its desired effect, which is the digestion of certain molecules and the suppression of appetite to prevent overeating.


Like other hormones related to feelings of satiety, cholecystokinin can take some time to act in the body. This is one of the reasons that people are encouraged to eat slowly, and to wait for 10-20 minutes if they still feel hungry after a meal. Often, the feeling of hunger resolves as the body's hormones start to act on the brain. Conversely, competitive eaters try to eat as much as possible as quickly as possible so that they can win competitions before the chemicals which induce satiety start acting on their brains, making it difficult or impossible to eat more food.

In diagnostic tests which are designed to assess whether or not the gallbladder is working properly, a doctor may inject cholecystokinin into a patient and monitor his or her response. This controlled introduction of cholecystokinin into the body allows a doctor to see if the gallbladder and digestive tract are working as they should be. If the gallbladder fails to respond, it can indicate that the patient has a problem and that further diagnostic tests may be needed. Before performing this test, a doctor will conduct a patient interview to make sure that it will be safe and suitable.


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Post 5

@shell4life – Sounds like you developed a good plan! I have a method of listening to my appetite that has helped keep me from feeling stuffed, too. I'm not trying to lose weight. I merely want to prevent that horrible bloated feeling that arrives whenever I overeat.

I love eating dessert, but I feel bad if I eat it after a big meal. So, I place a modest amount of food on my plate. After I eat it all, I make myself wait ten minutes before eating dessert.

By the time the ten minutes have passed, I can tell whether or not I have room for dessert. My cholecystokinin has kicked in, and it lets me know if there is a vacancy that can be filled with chocolate pie or if my stomach has reached maximum occupancy.

Post 4

I didn't know that a hormone was responsible for nausea and anxiety! I often experience both, but I didn't know the science behind it.

Sometimes, when I eat too much, I feel anxious. My heart rate increases, and I feel restless. I sit around and wonder what is wrong with myself, because I have no reason to be feeling that anything is out of the ordinary.

Since cholecystokinin can cause this and also regulates the appetite, I wonder if the reason I feel anxious is because I have overeaten. I never really saw how the two could be related before, but now I think I might be onto something.

Post 3

That feeling of satiety will help you tremendously, but only if you listen to it. I learned that I wind up feeling so much better when I do.

One of the main reasons I used to overeat is because I ignored my feeling of fullness. I loved eating so much that I would think I could pack in a little bit more before my appetite shut down.

I gained weight because of this. I started a portion control diet, and I started cutting myself off before I felt really full. I simply told myself that I had eaten enough, and soon, the feeling of satiety did set in.

Now that I have gotten used to eating a lot less, my appetite shuts off a whole lot quicker. My stomach doesn't pooch out the way it once did, and I feel so much healthier.

Post 2

Even though you can function OK without your gall bladder, I have always wondered what kind of effect it has on your body if you have it removed.

Has anyone had their gallbladder removed and had any problems with digestion or weight gain?

It sounds like cholecystokinin secretion plays an important role in digestion and feeling full. If you didn't have this naturally secreted in your body, would it be easy to overeat because you didn't feel full?

Post 1

When I was having some abnormal abdominal discomfort, the first thing they checked was my gallbladder.

First I had an ultrasound done to determine if I had any stones. When this came back normal, they scheduled a cholecystokinin hida scan.

I had to fast for several hours before taking this test and just laid on a table for about an hour as they injected me with a dye every few minutes.

They were watching to see how my gallbladder reacted to this dye, which would be similar to what it would do when eating food.

The results of this test showed that it was not responding quite like it should, but was not in a range

where they would require surgery.

My doctor explained that sometimes this test can be subjective, so scheduled another one a few weeks later. This same test was done and it showed that my gallbladder didn't respond at all.

I still have not had my gallbladder removed after all those tests. My doctor put me on a prescription for gastritis, and this seemed to take care of my symptoms, so she didn't want to put me through the stress of surgery if I didn't need it.

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