Interstitial cell of Cajal
- For the cell in the midbrain, see Rostral interstitial nucleus of medial longitudinal fasciculus.
|Interstitial cell of Cajal|
|Latin||cellulae interstitiales stimulantes|
The interstitial cell of Cajal (ICC) is a type of interstitial cell found in the gastrointestinal tract that serves as a pacemaker which creates the bioelectrical slow wave potential that leads to contraction of the smooth muscle.
Many types of smooth muscle tissues have now been shown to contain ICC, but with few exceptions the function of these cells is not known and is currently an area of active research. An international society (International Society for ICC, www.isicc.org) has recently been formed to provide a forum to discuss research in ICC in a variety of tissues.
Role in slow wave activity 
Frequency of ICC pacemaker cells 
The frequency of ICC pacemaker activity differs in different regions of the GI tract:
- 3 per minute in the stomach
- 12 per minute in the duodenum
- 10 per minute in the ileum
- 3 per minute in the colon
ICC also mediate neural input from enteric motor neurons. Animals lacking ICC have greatly reduced responses to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, released from excitatory motor neurons, and to the transmitter nitric oxide, released from inhibitory motor neurons. Loss of ICC in disease, therefore, may interrupt normal neural control of gastrointestinal (GI) contractions and lead to functional GI disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome.
ICC also express mechano-sensitive mechanisms that cause these cells to respond to stretch. Stretching GI muscles can affect the resting potentials of ICC and affect the frequency of pacemaker activity.
ICC are also critical in the propagation of electrical slow waves. ICC form a network through which slow wave activity can propagate. If this network is broken, then 2 regions of muscle will function independently.
- Sanders K, Koh S, Ward S (2006). "Interstitial cells of cajal as pacemakers in the gastrointestinal tract". Annu Rev Physiol 68: 307–343. doi:10.1146/annurev.physiol.68.040504.094718. PMID 16460275.
- Kursad Turksen (2006). Embryonic Stem Cell Protocols: Differentiation models. Humana Press. pp. 263–. ISBN 978-1-58829-784-6. Retrieved 14 April 2010.
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- Sanders K, Ward S (2006). "Interstitial cells of Cajal: a new perspective on smooth muscle function". J Physiol 576 (Pt 3): 721–726. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2006.115279. PMC 1890422. PMID 16873406.
- Overview of ICCs - unr.edu.