, Volume 194, Issue 1, pp 49-55

Characterization of the interstitial cells associated with the submuscular plexus of the guinea-pig colon

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Interstitial cells associated with the submuscular plexus of the guinea pig colon were studied by electron microscopy and by light microscopic wholemount stretch preparations. Their cytoplasmic features are similar to those of fibroblasts and they contain a well-developed Golgi apparatus, granular endoplasmic reticulum and many mitochondria. Intermediate filaments are abundantly distributed throughout the perinuclear region and processes. Numerous caveolae, a basal lamina and subsurface cisterns are observed on the cell membrane as in smooth muscle cells. The most characteristic feature of this cell type is the existence of many large gap junctions that interconnect these cells to each other and with the smooth muscle cells. Nerve varicosities containing synaptic vesicles are observed in close apposition with cells of this type. Whole-mount preparations stained by the zinc iodide-osmic acid method and by vimentin immunohistochemistry clearly demonstrated the stellate form of these gap junction-rich cells and suggested that they correspond to the interstitial cells of Cajal.