Intrinsic primary afferent neurones of the digestive tract

Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2004 Apr;16 Suppl 1:24-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-3150.2004.00470.x.


Intrinsic primary afferent neurones of the intestine are specialized neurones that encode information about the state of the intestine by transducing mechanical and chemical stimuli that reflect tension in the gut wall and the chemical nature of its contents. They connect with interneurones and motor neurones in the gut to form the circuits of intrinsic muscle motor, secretomotor and vasomotor reflexes. A large range of ionic currents occur in these neurones. The neurones have voltage-activated inward sodium currents (both tetrodotoxin-sensitive and tetrodotoxin-insensitive) and inward calcium currents. Calcium entering during the action potential activates a slow after hyperpolarizing potassium current that has a profound influence on subsequent action potential firing. They also exhibit a prominent hyperpolarization-activated nonspecific cation current. The excitability of these neurones and sensory transduction are altered when the gut is inflamed. Changed excitability can persist after the inflammatory state has subsided. Intrinsic primary afferent neurones are thus important, both to the normal physiology and to pathophysiology of the small and large intestines.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Digestive System / innervation*
  • Digestive System / pathology
  • Electrophysiology
  • Enteric Nervous System / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology*