Generation of Gut Motor Patterns Through Interactions Between Interstitial Cells of Cajal and the Intrinsic and Extrinsic Autonomic Nervous Systems
Additional Document Info
The musculature of the gastrointestinal tract is a vast network of collaborating excitable cell types. Embedded throughout are the interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC) intertwined with enteric nerves. ICC sense external stimuli such as distention, mediate nerve impulses to smooth muscle cells, and provide rhythmic excitation of the musculature. Neural circuitry involving both the intrinsic and extrinsic autonomic nervous systems, in collaboration with the ICC, orchestrate an array of motor patterns that serve to provide mixing of content to optimize digestion and absorption, microbiome homeostasis, storage, transit, and expulsion. ICC are specialized smooth muscle cells that generate rhythmic depolarization to the musculature and so provide the means for peristaltic and segmenting contractions. Some motor patterns are purely myogenic, but a neural stimulus initiates most, further depolarizing the primary pacemaker cells and the musculature and/or initiating transient pacemaker activity in stimulus-dependent secondary ICC pacemaker cells. From stomach to rectum, ICC networks rhythmically provide tracks along which contractions advance.