Action potentials in gastrointestinal smooth muscle
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Recent investigation of the ultrastructure and electrophysiology of gastrointestinal smooth muscle layers has revealed a fascinating heterogeneity in cell type, cell structure, intercellular communication, and generated electrical activities. Networks of interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC) have been identified in many muscle layers and evidence is accumulating for a role of these networks in gut pacemaking activity. Synchronized motility in the organs of the gut result from interaction between ICC, neural-tissue, and smooth muscle cells. Regulation of cell to cell communication between the different cell types will be an important area for further research. Progress has been made in the elucidation of the ionic basis of the slow wave type action potentials and the spike-like action potentials. The mechanism underlying smooth muscle autorhythmicity seems different from that encountered in cardiac tissue, and evidence exists for metabolic regulation of the frequency of slow wave type action potentials.
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