ICC Network Density: Regulation and Consequences

  • Simon J. Gibbons
  • Jerry Gao
  • Gianrico Farrugia
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computational Vision and Biomechanics book series (LNCVB, volume 10)


Interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC) are mesoderm-derived mesenchymal cells found in the smooth muscle layers of the gastrointestinal tract. They contribute to the normal function of the gut by generating rhythmic electrical activity, as intermediaries in neuromuscular signalling, altering the membrane potential of adjacent smooth muscle and responding to mechanical stretch. Depletion of ICC is associated with several gastrointestinal motility disorders including diabetic gastroparesis, slow transit constipation and intestinal pseudo-obstruction. This chapter reviews the information that can be obtained from measuring and characterizing networks of interstitial cells of Cajal in health and disease, the applications of that information in computer modelling and about how mathematical modelling might inform further efforts to characterize and/or reverse ICC network depletion. We describe the appropriate techniques for tissue collection and handling when investigating effects on ICC networks. Methods for identifying, accurately quantifying and mapping ICC are presented together with new analyses that can identify changes to the geometry as well as the density of the ICC networks. Finally we discuss the information that is obtained on the relationship between ICC network changes and alterations to gastrointestinal function and show how computer modelling of virtual ICC networks could be used to predict those relationships.


Virtual Network Slow Transit Constipation Diabetic Gastroparesis Electrical Slow Wave Normal Gastrointestinal Function 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We wish to thank the members of the Enteric Neuroscience Program, especially Dr Joseph Szurszewski and Mrs Kristy Zodrow, and members of the Gastrointestinal Research Group at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute for their support and assistance with this work. We are especially grateful to Dr Andrew Pullan for his leadership in establishing and maintaining the collaboration that is a key component in the studies described here. Thanks Andrew. These studies were supported by the following NIH Grants R01 DK57061 (GF, SJG), P01 DK 68055–P1 (GF, SJG), P01 DK 68055–B (SJG), R01 DK 52766 (GF, SJG), 1P30DK084567 (GF, SJG). Jerry Gao is supported by the University of Auckland Health Research Doctoral Scholarship, the Freemasons Postgraduate Scholarship and the R. H. T. Bates Postgraduate Scholarship.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simon J. Gibbons
    • 1
  • Jerry Gao
    • 2
  • Gianrico Farrugia
    • 1
  1. 1.Enteric Neurosciences Program, Department Physiology and Biomedical EngineeringMayo Clinic College of MedicineRochesterUSA
  2. 2.Auckland Bioengineering InstituteThe University of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

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