Role of interstitial cells of Cajal in the generation and modulation of motor activity induced by cholinergic neurotransmission in the stomach
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BACKGROUND: Interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC) are intimately linked to the enteric nervous system and a better understanding of the interactions between the two systems is going to advance our understanding of gut motor control. The objective of the present study was to investigate the role of ICC in the generation of gastric motor activity induced by cholinergic neurotransmission. METHODS: Gastric motor activity was evoked through activation of intrinsic cholinergic neural activity, in in vitro muscle strips by electrical field stimulation, in the in vitro whole stomach by distension and in vivo by fluoroscopy after gavaging the stomach with barium sulfate. The cholinergic activity was assessed as that component of the effect of the stimulus that was sensitive to atropine. These experiments were carried out in wild-type and Ws/Ws rats that have few intramuscular ICC (ICC-IM) in the stomach. KEY RESULTS: Under all three experimental conditions, cholinergic activity was prominent in both wild-type and W mutant rats providing evidence against the hypothesis that cholinergic neurotransmission to smooth muscle is primarily mediated by ICC-IM. Strong cholinergic activity in Ws/Ws rats was not due to upregulation of muscarinic receptors in ICC but possibly in smooth muscle of the antrum. CONCLUSIONS & INFERENCES: Pacemaker ICC play a prominent role in the expression of motor activity induced by cholinergic activity and our data suggest that cholinergic neurotransmission to ICC affects the pacemaker frequency.
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