The importance of interstitial cells of cajal in the gastrointestinal tract

Saudi J Gastroenterol. Jan-Feb 2013;19(1):3-15. doi: 10.4103/1319-3767.105909.

Abstract

Gastrointestinal (GI) motility function and its regulation is a complex process involving collaboration and communication of multiple cell types such as enteric neurons, interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC), and smooth muscle cells. Recent advances in GI research made a better understanding of ICC function and their role in the GI tract, and studies based on different types of techniques have shown that ICC, as an integral part of the GI neuromuscular apparatus, transduce inputs from enteric motor neurons, generate intrinsic electrical rhythmicity in phasic smooth muscles, and have a mechanical sensation ability. Absence or improper function of these cells has been linked to some GI tract disorders. This paper provides a general overview of ICC; their discovery, subtypes, function, locations in the GI tract, and some disorders associated with their loss or disease, and highlights some controversial issues with regard to the importance of ICC in the GI tract.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Enteric Nervous System / physiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Motility / physiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / cytology
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / innervation
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Interstitial Cells of Cajal / physiology*
  • Intestine, Small / physiology
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*