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J Physiol. 2011 Sep 15;589(Pt 18):4565-82. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2011.211094. Epub 2011 Jul 18.

Muscarinic activation of Ca2+-activated Cl- current in interstitial cells of Cajal.

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Department of Physiology and Cell Biology, University of Nevada School of Medicine, Reno, NV 89557, USA.


Interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC) provide pacemaker activity and functional bridges between enteric motor nerve terminals and gastrointestinal smooth muscle cells. The ionic conductance(s) in ICC that are activated by excitatory neural inputs are unknown. Transgenic mice (Kit(copGFP/+)) with constitutive expression of a bright green fluorescent protein were used to investigate cellular responses of ICC to cholinergic stimulation. ICC displayed spontaneous transient inward currents (STICs) under voltage clamp that corresponded to spontaneous transient depolarizations (STDs) under current clamp. STICs reversed at 0 mV when E(Cl) = 0 mV and at -40 mV when E(Cl) was -40 mV, suggesting the STICs were due to a chloride conductance. Carbachol (CCh, 100 nm and 1 μm) induced a sustained inward current (depolarization in current clamp) and increased the amplitude and frequency of STICs and STDs. CCh responses were blocked by atropine (10 μm) or 4-DAMP (100 nm), an M(3) receptor antagonist. STDs were blocked by niflumic acid and 5-nitro-2-(3-phenylpropylamino)-benzoic acid (both 100 μm), and CCh had no effect in the presence of these drugs. The responses of intact circular muscles to CCh and stimulation of intrinsic excitatory nerves by electrical field stimulation (EFS) were also compared. CCh (1 μm) caused atropine-sensitive depolarization and increased the maximum depolarization of slow waves. Similar atropine-sensitive responses were elicited by stimulation of intrinsic excitatory neurons. Niflumic acid (100 μm) blocked responses to EFS but had minor effect on responses to exogenous CCh. These data suggest that different ionic conductances are responsible for electrical responses elicited by bath-applied CCh and cholinergic nerve stimulation.

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