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Encyclopedia > Interstitial cell of Cajal

The Interstitial cell of Cajal (ICC) is a type of cell found in the gastrointestinal tract. It serves as a pacemaker that triggers gut contraction.[1] Drawing of the structure of cork as it appeared under the microscope to Robert Hook from Micrographia which is the origin of the word cell. Cells in culture, stained for keratin (red) and DNA (green). ... The gastrointestinal tract (GI tract), also called the digestive tract, alimentary canal, or gut, is the system of organs within multicellular animals that takes in food, digests it to extract energy and nutrients, and expels the remaining waste. ... The term pacemaker has multiple meanings: In sports, a pacemaker or pacer is a competitor who enters an athletics race with little or no intention of winning, but purely to set a fast pace for other competitors to follow. ... In much of the digestive tract, muscles contract in sequence to produce a peristaltic wave which forces food (called bolus while in the esophagus and chyme below the esophagus) along the alimentary canal. ...

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 an area of active research. Cultured Smooth muscle of the aorta. ... Research is a human activity based on intellectual investigation and aimed at discovering, interpreting, and revising human knowledge on different aspects of the world. ...


Role in slow wave activity

ICC serve as electrical pacemakers and generate spontaneous electrical slow waves in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Electrical slow waves spread from ICC to smooth muscle cells and the resulting depolarization initiates calcium ion entry and contraction. Slow waves organize gut contractions into phasic contractions that are the basis for peristalsis and segmentation. Lightning strikes during a night-time thunderstorm. ... Smooth muscle is a type of non-striated muscle, found within the walls of hollow organs; such as blood vessels, the bladder, the uterus, and the gastrointestinal tract. ... In much of the digestive tract, muscles contract in sequence to produce a peristaltic wave which forces food (called bolus while in the esophagus and chyme below the esophagus) along the alimentary canal. ... Vertebrates have a segmented vertebral column and brain. ...

Frequency of ICC pacemaker cells

The frequency of ICC pacemaker activity differs in different regions of the GI tract:[citation needed]

ICC also mediate neural input from enteric motor neurons. Animals lacking ICC have greatly reduced responses to the transmitter, 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. In anatomy, the stomach is a bean-shaped hollow muscular organ of the gastrointestinal tract involved in the second phase of digestion, following mastication. ... In anatomy of the digestive system, the duodenum is a hollow jointed tube connecting the stomach to the jejunum. ... Grays Fig. ... Colon has several meanings: colon (anatomy) colon (punctuation) colon (rhetoric) See also Colón This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... In anatomy, the intestine is the portion of the alimentary canal extending from the stomach to the anus and, in humans and other mammals, consists of two segments, the small intestine and the large intestine (or colon). ... â…”In vertebrates, the term motor neuron (or “motoneuron”) classically applies to neurons located in the central nervous system (CNS) which project their axons outside the CNS and directly or indirectly control muscles. ... Antenna tower of Crystal Palace transmitter, London A transmitter (sometimes abbreviated XMTR) is an electronic device which with the aid of an antenna propagates an electromagnetic signal such as radio, television, or other telecommunications. ... The chemical compound acetylcholine, often abbreviated as ACh, was the first neurotransmitter to be identified. ... â…”In vertebrates, the term motor neuron (or “motoneuron”) classically applies to neurons located in the central nervous system (CNS) which project their axons outside the CNS and directly or indirectly control muscles. ... Cell signaling is part of a complex system of communication that governs basic cellular activities and coordinates cell actions. ... R-phrases , , , , S-phrases , , , Supplementary data page Structure and properties n, εr, etc. ... The term disease refers to an abnormal condition of an organism that impairs function. ...

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. The resting potential of a cell is the membrane potential that would be maintained if there were no action potentials, synaptic potentials, or other active changes in the membrane potential. ...

ICC are also critical in the propagation of electrical slow waves. ICC form a network through which slow wave activity can propagate actively. If this network is broken, then 2 regions of muscle will function independently.


ICCs are thought to be the cells from which gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GISTs) arise.[2] Also, abnormalities in the ICC network is one cause of chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction.[3] Endoscopic image of GIST in fundus of stomach, seen on retroflexion. ... Intestinal pseudoobstruction is the decreased ability of the intestines to push food through, and often causes dilation of various parts of the bowel. ...


The interstitial cells of Cajal are named after Santiago Ramón y Cajal,[4] a Spanish pathologist and Nobel laureate. Santiago Ramón y Cajal Santiago Ramón y Cajal (May 1, 1852 – October 17, 1934) was a famous Spanish histologist, physician, and Nobel laureate. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... The Nobel Prizes (pronounced no-BELL or no-bell) are awarded annually to people who have done outstanding research, invented groundbreaking techniques or equipment, or made outstanding contributions to society. ...


  1. ^ Sanders K, Koh S, Ward S. "Interstitial cells of cajal as pacemakers in the gastrointestinal tract". Annu Rev Physiol 68: 307-43. PMID 16460275. 
  2. ^ Miettinen M, Lasota J (2006). "Gastrointestinal stromal tumors: review on morphology, molecular pathology, prognosis, and differential diagnosis". Arch Pathol Lab Med 130 (10): 1466-78. PMID 17090188. 
  3. ^ De Giorgio R, Sarnelli G, Corinaldesi R, Stanghellini V (2004). "Advances in our understanding of the pathology of chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction". Gut 53 (11): 1549-52. PMID 15479666.  Full Text
  4. ^ Sanders K, Ward S (2006). "Interstitial cells of Cajal: a new perspective on smooth muscle function". J Physiol 576 (Pt 3): 721-6. PMID 16873406. 

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Gastrointestinal stromal tumor article - Gastrointestinal stromal tumor medical oncology rare malignancy ... (699 words)
Small tumors are generally benign, especially when cell division rate is slow, but large tumors disseminate to the liver, omentum and peritoneal cavity.
The histopathologist identifies the characteristics of GISTs (spindle cells in 70-80%, epitheloid aspect in 20-30%).
Investigators agree that GISTs probably arise from ICC cells (Interstitial Cajal Cells), that are normally part of the autonomic nervous system of the intestine.
Interstitial cells of Cajal in enteric neurotransmission -- Ward 47 (Supplement 4): 40 -- Gut (1911 words)
Interstitial cells of Cajal mediate inhibitory neurotransmission in the lower esophageal and pyloric sphincters.
A case for interstitial cells of Cajal as pacemakers and mediators of neurotransmission in the gastrointestinal tract.
Interstitial cells of Cajal in the guinea-pig gastrointestinal tract as revealed by c-kit immunohistochemistry.
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