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Anat Rec. 2001 Jan 1;262(1):110-24.

Toward a concept of stretch-coupling in smooth muscle. I. Anatomy of intestinal segmentation and sleeve contractions.

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Institute of Medical Anatomy, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.


Motility patterns and their structural basis were studied by video analysis, light and electron microscopy on the physiologically distended gut from normal and W/W(v) suckling mice and normal adult mice. Empty or diltiazem-relaxed intestine were used as references. In contrast to conventional primary aldehyde fixation, a brief primary fixation with osmic acid before aldehydes preserved the visible contraction patterns and revealed dynamic increases in the number of peg-and-socket junctions coupling muscle cells mutually and with interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC). In tissue engaged in segmentation, the major increase was in the circular muscle and involved the ICC-DMP (integrated in the circular muscle layer at the site of the deep muscular plexus), whereas the increase during sleeve contractions was in the longitudinal muscle and involved the ICC-AP (located at the site of Auerbach's plexus). The number and distribution of gap junctions were unaffected. Area analysis of cell profiles supported the involvement of circular muscle in segmentation, but longitudinal muscle alone in sleeve contractions. The gut of both normal and W/W(v) sucklings (and adults) contracted during segmentation at frequencies close to reported slow-wave frequencies. In W/W(v) sucklings, ICC-AP were absent whereas ICC-DMP were present in adult configuration. Before Day 8 pp gap junctions were seen only between ICC-DMP. In the sucklings ICC-DMP may be responsible for rapid circumferential coordination and pacemaking of ring contractions. The geometry, organization, and dynamic regulation of peg-and-socket junctions strongly suggest a crucial role in coordination of smooth muscle and pacemakers, probably as stretch sensors, mediating a 'stretch-coupling' in the system.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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