Neuromuscular Disorders of the Gastrointestinal Tract (S Rao, Section Editor)

Current Gastroenterology Reports

, 16:363

First online:

Interstitial Cells of Cajal: Update on Basic and Clinical Science

  • Jan D. HuizingaAffiliated withFarncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute, McMaster University Email author 
  • , Ji-Hong ChenAffiliated withDepartment of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University

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The basic science and clinical interest in the networks of interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC) keep growing, and here, research from 2010 to mid-2013 is highlighted. High-resolution gastrointestinal manometry and spatiotemporal mapping are bringing exciting new insights into motor patterns, their function and their myogenic and neurogenic origins, as well as the role of ICC. Critically important knowledge is emerging on the partaking of PDGFRα+ cells in ICC pacemaker networks. Evidence is emerging that ICC and PDGFRα+ cells have unique direct roles in muscle innervation. Chronic constipation is associated with loss and injury to ICC, which is stimulating extensive research into maintenance and repair of ICC after injury. In gastroparesis, high-resolution electrical and mechanical studies are beginning to elucidate the pathophysiological role of ICC and the pacemaker system in this condition. Receptors and ion channels that play a role in ICC function are being discovered and characterized, which paves the way for pharmacological interventions in gut motility disorders through ICC.


Interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC) PDGFRα+ Enteric nervous system (ENS) Chronic constipation Gastroparesis Inflammation Colon motility Pacemaker cells Nitric oxide Guanylate cyclase Gastroparesis Chronic constipation Gut transit Gastrointestinal transit Ion channels Receptors