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Excitatory Neuronal Responses of Ca2+ Transients in Interstitial Cells of Cajal in the Small Intestine
AuthorBaker, Salah A.
Drumm, Bernard T.
Skowronek, Karolina E.
Rembetski, Benjamin E.
Peri, Lauren E.
Hennig, Grant W.
Perrino, Brian A.
Sanders, Kenton M.
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Interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC) regulate smooth muscle excitability and motility in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. ICC in the deep muscular plexus (ICC-DMP) of the small intestine are aligned closely with varicosities of enteric motor neurons and thought to transduce neural responses. ICC-DMP generate Ca2+ transients that activate Ca2+ activated Cl-channels and generate electrophysiological responses. We tested the hypothesis that excitatory neurotransmitters regulate Ca2+ transients in ICC-DMP as a means of regulating intestinal muscles. High-resolution confocal microscopy was used to image Ca2+ transients in ICC-DMP within murine small intestinal muscles with cell-specific expression of GCaMP3. Intrinsic nerves were stimulated by electrical field stimulation (EFS). ICC-DMP exhibited ongoing Ca2+ transients before stimuli were applied. EFS caused initial suppression of Ca2+ transients, followed by escape during sustained stimulation, and large increases in Ca2+ transients after cessation of stimulation. Basal Ca2+ activity and the excitatory phases of Ca2+ responses to EFS were inhibited by atropine and neurokinin 1 receptor (NK1) antagonists, but not by NK2 receptor antagonists. Exogenous ACh and substance P (SP) increased Ca2+ transients, atropine and NK1 antagonists decreased Ca2+ transients. Neurokinins appear to be released spontaneously (tonic excitation) in small intestinal muscles and are the dominant excitatory neurotransmitters. Subcellular regulation of Ca2+ release events in ICC-DMP may be a means by which excitatory neurotransmission organizes intestinal motility patterns.