Structural basis for function of circular muscle of canine corpus
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The structural relationship of nerve, muscle, and interstitial cells of Cajal in circular muscle of the lesser curvature of the dog stomach (corpus) has been studied. This muscle has also been characterized functionally. Muscle cells are arranged in bundles and are interconnected by numerous gap junctions averaging 30 per 100 cross-sectioned muscle cells, and leading to an estimate that each cell has about 200 gap junctions. No other smooth muscle studied to date has such a high density of gap junctions. Nerve varicosities, mostly containing a predominance of small agranular vesicles with some containing a predominance of large granular vesicles, are located outside muscle bundles, usually in small- to medium-sized bundles. Very few nerves containing small granular vesicles, presumably adrenergic, were found in agreement with functional studies. A substantial number of damaged nerve profiles was also found, perhaps contributing to the loss of nerve-dependent responses present in vivo, but absent in vitro. Interstitial cells of Cajal were rare in this tissue, about 1 per 1000 cross-sectioned muscle cells. When present, they often made gap junction contact with smooth muscle and were closely innervated. The findings of a structural basis for very tight coupling between cells, the absence of a structural basis for direct neural control over motor function, and other findings have implications for the control of contractions in this muscle.
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