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Am J Physiol. 1986 Jan;250(1 Pt 1):G28-34.

Waxing and waning of slow waves in intestinal musculature.


Electrical slow waves from cat or rabbit small intestine show more variability when recorded in vivo than in vitro. One pattern of variation is waxing and waning of amplitude, or "spindling," during which two rhythms of slightly different frequency come in and out of phase. Fourier power analyses of slow waves during spindles show two frequency peaks of slow waves differing by 0.4-5.0 waves/min and corresponding to measured spindle durations of 12-150 s. Spindles can be induced in vitro in rabbit intestine by K depolarization of approximately 15 mV. Histograms of intracellular recordings of slow nonspindling waves show variation of 0.5-1.0 s on either side of a mean slow wave duration. Spindles are abolished by treatments that reduce electrical coupling between cells, e.g., hypertonic sucrose or lowered pH, but changes in calcium do not alter spindles. Simultaneous recordings by two electrodes in the longitudinal axis show synchrony of spindles at 2- to 3-mm but not at 5-mm separation and synchrony circumferentially to the opposite side of a segment. Contractions, both in vivo and in vitro, correspond with electrical spindles in amplitude. Spindle durations were significantly shorter in vivo than in vitro, indicating a significantly greater difference in vivo in the competing frequencies at the point of recording (P less than 0.01). Three conditions favoring waxing and waning are slight depolarization, variation in slow wave frequency at a point, and electrotonic coupling between muscle fibers. Spindles provide for rhythms of contractions of a 1- to 2-min period.

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