Enteric sensory neurons communicate with interstitial cells of Cajal to affect pacemaker activity in the small intestine Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Enteric sensory neurons (the AH neurons) play a role in control of gastrointestinal motor activity; AH neuron activation has been proposed to change propulsion into segmentation. We sought to find a mechanism underlying this phenomenon. We formulated the hypothesis that AH neurons increase local ICC-MP (interstitial cells of Cajal associated with the myenteric plexus) pacemaker frequency to disrupt peristalsis and promote absorption. To that end, we sought structural and physiological evidence for communication between ICC-MP and AH neurons. We designed experiments that allowed us to simultaneously activate AH neurons and observe changes in ICC calcium transients that underlie its pacemaker activity. Neurobiotin injection in AH neurons together with ICC immunohistochemistry proved the presence of multiple contacts between AH neuron varicosities and the cell bodies and processes of ICC-MP. Generating action potential activity in AH neurons led to increase in the frequency and amplitude of calcium transients underlying pacemaker activity in ICC. When no rhythmicity was seen, rhythmic calcium transients were evoked in ICC. As a control, we stimulated nitrergic S neurons, which led to reduction in ICC calcium transients. Hence, we report here the first demonstration of communication between AH neurons and ICC. The following hypothesis can now be formulated: AH neuron activation can disrupt peristalsis directed by ICC-MP slow wave activity, through initiation of a local pacemaker by increasing ICC pacemaker frequency through increasing the frequency of ICC calcium transients. Evoking new pacemakers distal to the proximal lead pacemaker will initiate both retrograde and antegrade propulsion causing back and forth movements that may disrupt peristalsis.

publication date

  • July 2014