Gastrointestinal peristalsis: Joint action of enteric nerves, smooth muscle, and interstitial cells of Cajal
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Peristalsis is a propulsive motor pattern orchestrated by neuronal excitation and inhibition in cooperation with intrinsic muscular control mechanisms, including those residing in interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC). Interstitial cells of Cajal form a network of cells in which electrical slow waves originate and then propagate into the musculature initiating rhythmic contractile activity upon excitaton by enteric nerves. Interstitial cells of Cajal have now been isolated and their intrinsic properties reveal the presence of rhythmic inward currents not found in smooth muscle cells. In tissues where classical slow waves are not present, enteric cholinergic excitation will evoke slow wave-like activity that forces action potentials to occur in a rhythmic manner. Intrinsic and induced slow wave activity directs many of the peristaltic motor patterns in the gut.
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