Gastrointestinal Motor Function

  • Menizibeya Osain WelcomeEmail author


One of the major functions of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is to carry out some types of movement that allows the aborally directed flow of luminal contents. This function is referred to as GI motor function or motility. GI motor function is the result of the activities of muscles located in different layers of the tract. The muscles of the digestive apparatus function to ensure proper chewing in the mouth, swallowing, and movement of luminal contents through the digestive tract and removal of undigested residues from the body. The functions of muscles of the gut are to a large extent determined by the influences from the surrounding environment. However, the gut at certain locations maintains a basal level of motility, which, in part, is due to the functional pacemaker activity of the intestine. The discovery of GI motility (mechanical activity or mechanistic functions of the gut) and the basis of its functionality provided important information on future research directions, which now form the basis of our understanding of GI motility. This chapter aims to identify the course and key milestones in GI motility research. The basis and regulation of gut motility are also discussed. The chapter lays down basic concepts and principles of motility of different regions of the gut and their relationship to the maintenance of the functioning of digestion.


Gut motility GI motility Gut motorics Gut motor function Intestinal cells Pacemaker activity Migrating motor complex Migrating myoelectrical activity Mechanistic theory of gut GI stretch receptors Migrating motor complex History of GI motility Chewing Mastication GI housekeeping Peristalsis Smooth muscle contraction Excitation Excitation-contraction coupling Contraction-relaxation cycling Motor unit Dysphagia Achalasia Hirschsprung’s disease Congenital colonic aganglionosis Gastroparesis CD34-positive PDGFRα-positive cells Interstitial Cajal cells Action potential Negative Schwankung Electrogastrography Ileal brake effect Hunger Pang Alessandro Volta Alex Bortoff Alexander von Humboldt Aloysio Luigi Galvani Bennett MR Bülbring E Burnstock G Carlo Matteucci Clifford Ladd Prosser Crema A Edith Bülbring Edward Banfield Emil Bozler Emil Heinrich du Bois-Reymond Ernest Starling Ewald Georg von Kleist Forbes Alexander Gaston R. Vantrappen Giuseppe Moruzzi Hans Christian Oersted Herbert Spencer Gasser Hermann von Helmholtz Hodgkin Huxley Holman ME Hoskins RG Edgar S. Hunter Ivan Pavlov James Christensen Johann Joosten van Musschenbroek Johann Schweigger Johannes Peter Müller John Walsh Joseph Erlanger Joseph H. Szurszewski Julius Bernstein Kenton M. Sander Lars Thunberg Leopoldo Nobili Leyden jar Lucille J. Mahoney Luigi Galvani Paul Trendelenburg Pieter (Petrus) van Musschenbroek Prosser von Humboldt Walter B. Cannon Walter C. Alvarez Willem Einthoven William Bayliss William Beaumont 



Actin-depolymerizing factor

Ang II

Angiotensin II


Actin-related protein-2 and -3


Large conductance calcium-activated potassium channel


Ca2+/calmodulin(CaM)-dependent kinase type II


Cluster of differentiation-34


Calcitonin gene-related peptide


Protein kinase C-potentiated inhibitor protein or C-kinase potentiated protein phosphatase-1 inhibitor, molecular weight 17 kDa


Cycle per minute


cAMP-responsive element-binding protein




Endothelial-derived hyperpolarizing factor


Endoplasmic reticulum


Extracellular signal-regulated kinase type


Extracellular signal responsive kinase


Fast closing


Fast opening




Gastric inhibitory peptide


G protein-coupled receptor


Gastrin-releasing peptide


Interstitial Cajal cells


Integrin-linked kinase


Inducible nitric oxide synthase


Phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate


Inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate


IP3 receptor


Mitogen-activated protein kinase


Mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (also known as MAPK kinase or MAPKK or MKK)


Myosin heavy chain


Myosin light chain


Myosin light-chain kinase


MLC phosphatase


Migrating motor complex or migrating myoelectrical activity


Myosin-binding protein C


Myosin-binding regulatory subunit-1 of MLC phosphatase


Nitric oxide


Oral transit time


Pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide




Platelet-derived growth factor receptor alpha


Prostacyclin, prostaglandin


Phosphoinositide 3-kinase


Protein kinase C


Phospholipase C isozyme β


Pharyngeal transit time


Resting membrane potential


Rho-associated coiled-coil kinase


Ryanodine receptor


Slow closing


Sarcoendoplasmic reticulum


Smooth muscle cell, ICC cell, PDGFRα+ cell


Small-conductance calcium-activated potassium channel


Slow opening


Sarcoplasmic reticulum


Vasodilator-stimulated phosphoprotein


Vascular endothelial growth factor


Vasoactive intestinal peptide


Wiskott–Aldrich syndrome protein


Zipper interacting protein kinase


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physiology, Faculty of Basic Medical SciencesCollege of Health Sciences, Nile University of NigeriaFCT-AbujaNigeria

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