Interstitial cells of cajal in the canine colon: A special communication network at the inner border of the circular muscle
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The ultrastructure of the region shown to be essential for pacemaking activity of the circular muscle of the canine colon was studied. This region, at the inner border of the circular muscle, consists of a network of several layers of interstitial cells of Cajal type III. These are interconnected to one another and to the adjacent circular muscle cells by numerous gap junctions. Elsewhere in circular muscle, gap junctions are rare and small. In addition, interstitial cells are in close (often less than 20 nm) contact with nerve varicosities containing large granular vesicles or sometimes small granular vesicles. The morphology of interstitial cells resembles that of others of type III. It is suggested that this arrangement of interstitial cells, circular smooth muscles, and nerves allows for a tightly coupled network of membrane oscillators to be subject to neural modulation.
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