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Prog Neurobiol. 2004 Feb;72(2):143-64.

Intrinsic primary afferent neurons and nerve circuits within the intestine.

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Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology and Centre for Neuroscience, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Vic. 3010, Australia.


Intrinsic primary afferent neurons (IPANs) of the enteric nervous system are quite different from all other peripheral neurons. The IPANs are transducers of physiological stimuli, including movement of the villi or distortion of the mucosa, contraction of intestinal muscle and changes in the chemistry of the contents of the gut lumen. They are the first neurons in intrinsic reflexes that influence the patterns of motility, secretion of fluid across the mucosal epithelium and local blood flow in the small and large intestines. In the guinea pig small intestine, where they have been characterized in detail, IPANs have Dogiel type II morphology, that is they are large round or oval neurons with multiple processes, some of which end close to the luminal surface of the intestine, and some of which form synapses with enteric interneurons, motor neurons and with other IPANs. The IPANs have well-defined ionic currents through which their excitability, and their functions in enteric nerve circuits, is determined. These include voltage-gated Na(+) and Ca(2+) currents, a long lasting calcium-activated K(+) current, and a hyperpolarization-activated cationic current. The IPANs exhibit long-term changes in their states of excitation that can be induced by extended periods of low frequency activity in synaptic inputs and by inflammatory mediators, either applied directly or released during an inflammatory challenge. The IPANs may be involved in pathological changes in enteric function following inflammation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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