Nitric oxide (NO) mediates inhibitory neurotransmission and is a critical component of neuronal programs that generate propulsive contractions. NO acts via its receptor NO‐sensitive guanylyl cyclase (NO‐GC) which is expressed in smooth muscle cells (SMC) and interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC). Organ bath studies with colonic rings from NO‐GC knockout mice (GCKO) have indicated NO‐GC to modulate spontaneous contractions. The cell‐specific effects of NO‐GC on the dominant pan‐colonic propulsive contraction, the long distance contractions (LDCs), of whole colon preparations have not yet been described.
Contractions of whole colon preparations from wild type (WT), global, and cell‐specific GCKO were recorded. After transformation into spatiotemporal maps, motility patterns were analyzed. Simultaneous perfusion of the colon enabled the correlation of outflow with LDCs to analyze contraction efficiency.
Deletion of NO‐GC in both ICC and SMC (ie, in GCKO and SMC/ICC‐GCKO) caused loss of typical LDC activity and instead generated high‐frequency LDC‐like contractions with inefficient propulsive activity. Frequency was also increased in WT, SMC‐GCKO, and ICC‐GCKO colon in the presence of L‐NAME to block neuronal NO synthase. LDC efficiency was dependent on NO‐GC in SMC as it was reduced in GCKO, SMC‐GCKO, and ICC/SMC‐GCKO colon; LDC efficiency was decreased in all genotypes in the presence of L‐NAME.
Conclusions and Inferences
NO/cGMP signaling is critical for normal peristaltic movements; as NO‐GC in both SMC and ICC is essential, both cell types appear to work in synchrony. The efficiency of contractions to expel fluid is particularly influenced by NO‐GC in SMC.