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Interstitial cells of Cajal

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Abstract

The sections in this article are:

1 Some Characteristics of Interstitial Cells of Cajal
2 Small Intestine
2.1 ICC AP, Associated with Auerbach'S Plexus
2.2 ICC SS, Located in Subserous Compartment
2.3 ICC DMP, Associated with deep Muscular Plexus
2.4 ICC CM, Associated with Nerves in Interstices of Main, Outer Layer of Circular Muscle Coat
3 Esophagus and Stomach
3.1 General Organization
3.2 Functions of Esophageal and Gastric ICC
4 Large Intestine
4.1 ICC, Associated with Nerves Of Longitudinal Muscle Coat and with Auerbach'S Plexus
4.2 ICC, Associated with Submuscular Plexus
5 Summary
6 Addendum
Figure 1. Figure 1.

Rat ileocecal junction. Ganglionic collar was suggested to represent a local specialization of Auerbach's plexus, with intermediate cells (ICC AP) interposed between ganglion cells and muscle cells.

From Keith
Figure 2. Figure 2.

Rabbit intestine; vital staining with methylene blue. Interstitial cells (ICC AP) associated with Auerbach's plexus.

From Ramón y Cajal b)
Figure 3. Figure 3.

Guinea pig small intestine; vital staining with methylene blue. ICC AP plexus partly associated with a nerve fascicle (A) and a ganglion (B) of Auerbach's plexus. Scale, 50 μm.

From Taxi
Figure 4. Figure 4.

Cat ileum. ICC (arrows) in circular muscle coat. Number and appearance of cells suggest that they are located between the two subdivisions of circular muscle coat (ICC DMP). Scale, 100 μm.

From Vajda and Fehér
Figure 5. Figure 5.

Diagrammatic representation of muscularis externa of mouse small intestine. Three types of ICC are depicted: ICC AP (ICC I) associated with Auerbach's plexus (AP) in interval between the longitudinal muscle coat (LM) and outer lamina of circular muscle (CM‐OL); ICC SS (ICC II), unassociated with neural elements in interval between mesothelium (M) and LM; ICC DMP (ICC III), associated with deep muscular plexus (plexus muscularis profundus, PMP) in interval between outer and inner laminae of circular muscle (CM‐OL, CM‐IL). At all three levels ICC contact and envelop macrophage‐like cells (MLC). As a fourth type of ICC (ICC CM), cells with fibroblast features, which accompany nerve fascicles in interstices of CM‐OL, may be distinguished. ICC CM not shown in diagram.

From Thuneberg
Figure 6. Figure 6.

Mouse small intestine; stained with methylene blue. Contrast is high, in spite of specimen thickness (intact intestine), because of selectivity of methylene blue for ICC AP. Few, scattered longitudinal muscle cells are also stained. Absence of stained ICC AP in lower right corner is not due to absence of ICC AP. Outline of Auerbach's plexus is faintly visible because of a condensation of ICC AP plexus, mainly around primary nerve fascicles. Scale, 0.5 mm.

Figure 7. Figure 7.

Mouse small intestine; whole mount stained with methylene blue. ICC AP plexus with complex associations of processes. Cell with broad, flat processes (upper right corner) is embracing a ganglion. C, capillary. Scale, 25 μm.

Figure 8. Figure 8.

Cat small intestine. Area between longitudinal (L) and circular (C) muscle coats. Cells marked II, with oval nuclei (N), and interconnected by desmosome‐like junctions (small arrows), may correspond to ICC AP of mouse small intestine. A, axon; large arrows, basal lamina of muscle cells. Scale, 1 μm.

From Taylor et al.
Figure 9. Figure 9.

Mouse small intestine. Section tangential to ICC AP plexus. A: ICC AP (with dark cytoplasm after methylene blue staining) are enveloping an MLC. SM, smooth muscle cells of both layers. B and C: cytoplasmic details of ICC AP processes (area between arrows in A). Note interdigitation of processes, numerous mitochondria, presence of gap junctions between ICC AP (arrows), dominance of thin filaments in narrow processes, intermediate filaments in broader processes, and caveolae with associated smooth cisternae. Scale, 5 μm (A), 0.5 μm (B and C).

From Thuneberg
Figure 10. Figure 10.

Mouse small intestine. ICC AP (IC) process with highly developed smooth endoplasmic reticulum, forming subsurface cisternae close to caveolae, similar to arrangement in smooth muscle cells (SM). A basal lamina is present (arrows). Scale, 1 μm.

Micrograph courtesy of H. B. Mikkelsen
Figure 11. Figure 11.

Mouse small intestine. Four vesiculated axonal varicosities (arrows) of small (tertiary) fascicle, in close contact with ICC AP (IC), SM, smooth muscle cells. Scale, 0.5 μm.

Figure 12. Figure 12.

Mouse small intestine. Fluorescence micrographs of MLC after uptake of fluorescein‐labeled dextran. Ramified cells in focus, MLC between the longitudinal and circular muscle layers. Out of focus: subserous MLC, forming longitudinal rows. Note lack of connections between MLC and (in A) association of MLC with faintly visible Auerbach's plexus and with capillaries. Scale, 100 μm (A), 25 μm (B).

From Mikkelsen et al.
Figure 13. Figure 13.

Mouse small intestine; isolated musculature stained with methylene blue. Circular muscle layer has been partially separated from longitudinal muscle and bent back along oblique line. ICC AP remain associated with longitudinal muscle layer (lighter triangular area). Scale, 100 μm.

From Thuneberg et al.
Figure 14. Figure 14.

Mouse small intestine. Intracellular records of electrical activity, all from same intestinal preparation, which is incubated in a medium with added methylene blue. A: unstained area. B, C, D, and inset: area with selectively stained ICC AP (cf. Fig. ), at time 10 min (B), 27 min (C), and 33 min (D) after sacrifice of animal. Arrow: He‐Ne laser on. Inset: impalement of another cell after 2‐min illumination. Laser illumination had no effect on slow waves in areas where ICC AP were unstained. Scales, 20 mV and 10 s.

From Thuneberg et al.
Figure 15. Figure 15.

Mouse small intestine; methylene blue staining of ICC AP and contraction nodes of smooth muscle cells (longitudinal muscle coat). Note correspondence between positions of ICC AP processes and contraction nodes. Scale, 50 μm.

From Thuneberg
Figure 16. Figure 16.

Mouse small intestine. Isolated musculature grown in tissue culture for a few days. Rim of tissue expiant at top right; from this has grown a bundle of parallel, ribbon‐shaped smooth muscle cells (SM, longitudinal axis indicated). N, nucleus of ramified, spontaneously contractile cell (ICC?), contacting several smooth muscle cells and connected by long, contractile process (arrows) to cells of expiant. Scale, 25 μm.

Figure 17. Figure 17.

Direct (left) and indirect (right) neural control of smooth muscle. 1) Axons; 2 and 3) intercalated cells of two types: a fibroblast‐like cell (2) and a macrophage‐like cell (3); 4) smooth muscle cell.

From Feyrter
Figure 18. Figure 18.

Mouse duodenum. ICC(AP) extending through entire thickness of longitudinal muscle. CAP, lumen of capillary between muscle layers. SER, serosal surface. ICC contacts two processes with ultrastructural characteristics of ICC SS. Scale, 5 μm.

Micrograph courtesy of J. J. Rumessen
Figure 19. Figure 19.

Guinea pig small intestine; Golgi method. Deep muscular plexus or plexus muscularis profundus (B, right) with associated ICC DMP (A, left). Meshes of plexus, and ICC, are elongated in direction parallel to cells of circular muscle (top to bottom); a, b, f, ICC; c, positions of unstained nuclei of Schwann cells; d, e, varicose axons and/or extensions of ICC.

From Ramón y Cajal b)
Figure 20. Figure 20.

Guinea pig ileum; transverse section of entire circular muscle layer. A single layer of cells (sd; small, dense cells) forms inner subdivision of circular muscle. Below this, elements of deep muscular plexus are present. Scale, 5 μm.

From Gabella
Figure 21. Figure 21.

Cytoarchitecture of inner part of circular muscle coat (small intestine). IL, inner layer; OL, outer layer; SC, Schwann cells. ICC DMP (ICC III) in close contact with axonal varicosities of the deep muscular plexus and connected with other ICC as well as with OL (but not IL) by numerous, large nexus junctions (N).

Figure 22. Figure 22.

Mouse small intestine. As many as 8 nexuses (arrows) connect ICC DMP (right) with cells of outer, circular muscle layer (middle and left). Scale, 1 μm.

From Rumessen et al.
Figure 23. Figure 23.

Mouse small intestine, deep muscular plexus. OL, IL, outer and inner layers of circular muscle; IC, ICC DMP: F, fibroblast‐like cell; M, macrophage‐like cell. Interstices and cell surfaces are stained with ruthenium red. Axon bundle is completely covered by processes of ICC DMP, which are interconnected by nexuses (arrows). At least 10 axonal varicosities are in intimate contact with ICC DMP. Scale, 1 μm.

From Rumessen et al.
Figure 24. Figure 24.

Mouse small intestine, deep muscular plexus. Strong adherence of vesiculated varicosities to ICC DMP is indicated. Interstices are artificially dilated due to excessive perfusion pressure during vascular fixation. However, despite dilation of interstices, varicosities preserve large areas of contact with ICC DMP but not with other neighboring cells. Scale, 1 μm.

From Rumessen et al.
Figure 25. Figure 25.

Mouse small intestine. Survey of deep muscular plexus (only part of axons are stained) and ICC DMP (cells with dark cytoplasm), as revealed by ZIO staining. Scale, 50 μm.

From Rumessen and Thuneberg
Figure 26. Figure 26.

Mouse small intestine. ICC DMP (IC) in synaptic contact with axonal varicosity (AV), containing small agranular vesicles and larger granular vesicles (cholinergic type). Note presynaptic densities and slightly increased density of postsynaptic membrane. ICC has basal lamina (arrows), which is similar to basal lamina of the adjacent muscle cells (IL, inner circular layer). Scale, 0.5 μm.

From Rumessen et al.
Figure 27. Figure 27.

Mouse small intestine. ICC CM in interstices of outer, main layer of circular muscle. Cell processes are in contact with axon bundle (below) and with smooth muscle cells, but synaptic specializations and nexuses are seldom seen in this location. Note absence of caveolae in ICC CM (cf. Figs. and ). Scale, 1 μm.

Micrograph courtesy of J. J. Rumessen
Figure 28. Figure 28.

Human esophagus. Diagram showing distribution of ICC: in connective tissue septa (I), at periphery of muscular bundles (II), and accompanying nerves within a muscular bundle (III). Arrows, exact locations of groups. ICC of groups II and III contact each other and muscle cells, as well as axons.

From Faussone‐Pellegrini and Cortesini
Figure 29. Figure 29.

Human esophageal body, middle third. An ICC (group III; see Fig. ) contacts smooth muscle cells by close appositions of membranes (arrows) as well as by intermediate‐type and gap junctions (boxed area: insets A,B). Axons (asterisks) are in contact with ICC. Scale, 0.5 μm.

From Faussone‐Pellegrini and Cortesini
Figure 30. Figure 30.

Opossum esophageal body. ICC (IC) in circular muscle is connected by gap junction (GJ) to adjacent smooth muscle cell. ICC is in close contact with axons (AX) and innervated (close, gap width <23 nm) by a varicosity, containing mainly small agranular vesicles (SAV). Dense cytoplasm is characterized by accumulations of free ribosomes (long arrow) and profiles of Golgi/endoplasmic reticulum (short arrow). A basal lamina is seen, covering part of the ICC surface. Scale, 0.2 μm.

From Daniel and Posey‐Daniel
Figure 31. Figure 31.

Lovebird gizzard. An ICC (IC) forms gap junction (arrow) with smooth muscle cell (Sm). ICC is in contact with bundle of axons (NF), one of which (ax) forms a varicosity with small agranular vesicles.

From Imaizumi and Hama
Figure 32. Figure 32.

Rabbit colon. The ICC (c) of taenia coli, associated with small axon bundle (n). Cell contacts several muscle cells (s) by slender processes. Scale, 5 μm.

From Komuro
Figure 33. Figure 33.

Rabbit colon. Scanning electron micrographs showing interstitial cells (c1, c2) that overlie a myenteric ganglion (A) and smooth muscle cells (s; B). p, Primary process. Scale, 10 μm.

From Komuro
Figure 34. Figure 34.

Rat colon; ZIO stain. ICC (iz) and axons of submuscular plexus (plexus entericus extremus). ICC form a network through contacts between their processes (double arrows), and varicose axons are closely associated with the cells (single arrows). Scale, 50 μm.

From Stach
Figure 35. Figure 35.

Mouse colon; ZIO stain. Three stereo pairs of same field, focused on submuscular plexus (A), circular muscle with its nerve supply (B), and Auerbach's plexus (C). Network of ICC is present in association with two nerve plexuses of A and C. Arrows point to corresponding images of ICC. Scale, 20 μm.

Figure 36. Figure 36.

Survey of observations of ICC in various regions of alimentary tract. LM, CM: longitudinal and circular muscle coats. Asterisks, ICC that may be specialized regulatory cells, as judged mainly from morphological studies of an intercalation of these cells between nerves and effector cells. Densities of asterisks reflect densities of ICC in various regions, as reported or suggested from illustrated material. Crosses, ICC of fibroblast‐like ultrastructure, perhaps with mainly supporting functions. Questions marks, data missing or of minor significance. Possibility of interconnections ICC AP/SS and ICC AP/CM/DMP in small intestine is indicated by dotted lines. Also, question of species variation in structure of colonic circular muscle is included.



Figure 1.

Rat ileocecal junction. Ganglionic collar was suggested to represent a local specialization of Auerbach's plexus, with intermediate cells (ICC AP) interposed between ganglion cells and muscle cells.

From Keith


Figure 2.

Rabbit intestine; vital staining with methylene blue. Interstitial cells (ICC AP) associated with Auerbach's plexus.

From Ramón y Cajal b)


Figure 3.

Guinea pig small intestine; vital staining with methylene blue. ICC AP plexus partly associated with a nerve fascicle (A) and a ganglion (B) of Auerbach's plexus. Scale, 50 μm.

From Taxi


Figure 4.

Cat ileum. ICC (arrows) in circular muscle coat. Number and appearance of cells suggest that they are located between the two subdivisions of circular muscle coat (ICC DMP). Scale, 100 μm.

From Vajda and Fehér


Figure 5.

Diagrammatic representation of muscularis externa of mouse small intestine. Three types of ICC are depicted: ICC AP (ICC I) associated with Auerbach's plexus (AP) in interval between the longitudinal muscle coat (LM) and outer lamina of circular muscle (CM‐OL); ICC SS (ICC II), unassociated with neural elements in interval between mesothelium (M) and LM; ICC DMP (ICC III), associated with deep muscular plexus (plexus muscularis profundus, PMP) in interval between outer and inner laminae of circular muscle (CM‐OL, CM‐IL). At all three levels ICC contact and envelop macrophage‐like cells (MLC). As a fourth type of ICC (ICC CM), cells with fibroblast features, which accompany nerve fascicles in interstices of CM‐OL, may be distinguished. ICC CM not shown in diagram.

From Thuneberg


Figure 6.

Mouse small intestine; stained with methylene blue. Contrast is high, in spite of specimen thickness (intact intestine), because of selectivity of methylene blue for ICC AP. Few, scattered longitudinal muscle cells are also stained. Absence of stained ICC AP in lower right corner is not due to absence of ICC AP. Outline of Auerbach's plexus is faintly visible because of a condensation of ICC AP plexus, mainly around primary nerve fascicles. Scale, 0.5 mm.



Figure 7.

Mouse small intestine; whole mount stained with methylene blue. ICC AP plexus with complex associations of processes. Cell with broad, flat processes (upper right corner) is embracing a ganglion. C, capillary. Scale, 25 μm.



Figure 8.

Cat small intestine. Area between longitudinal (L) and circular (C) muscle coats. Cells marked II, with oval nuclei (N), and interconnected by desmosome‐like junctions (small arrows), may correspond to ICC AP of mouse small intestine. A, axon; large arrows, basal lamina of muscle cells. Scale, 1 μm.

From Taylor et al.


Figure 9.

Mouse small intestine. Section tangential to ICC AP plexus. A: ICC AP (with dark cytoplasm after methylene blue staining) are enveloping an MLC. SM, smooth muscle cells of both layers. B and C: cytoplasmic details of ICC AP processes (area between arrows in A). Note interdigitation of processes, numerous mitochondria, presence of gap junctions between ICC AP (arrows), dominance of thin filaments in narrow processes, intermediate filaments in broader processes, and caveolae with associated smooth cisternae. Scale, 5 μm (A), 0.5 μm (B and C).

From Thuneberg


Figure 10.

Mouse small intestine. ICC AP (IC) process with highly developed smooth endoplasmic reticulum, forming subsurface cisternae close to caveolae, similar to arrangement in smooth muscle cells (SM). A basal lamina is present (arrows). Scale, 1 μm.

Micrograph courtesy of H. B. Mikkelsen


Figure 11.

Mouse small intestine. Four vesiculated axonal varicosities (arrows) of small (tertiary) fascicle, in close contact with ICC AP (IC), SM, smooth muscle cells. Scale, 0.5 μm.



Figure 12.

Mouse small intestine. Fluorescence micrographs of MLC after uptake of fluorescein‐labeled dextran. Ramified cells in focus, MLC between the longitudinal and circular muscle layers. Out of focus: subserous MLC, forming longitudinal rows. Note lack of connections between MLC and (in A) association of MLC with faintly visible Auerbach's plexus and with capillaries. Scale, 100 μm (A), 25 μm (B).

From Mikkelsen et al.


Figure 13.

Mouse small intestine; isolated musculature stained with methylene blue. Circular muscle layer has been partially separated from longitudinal muscle and bent back along oblique line. ICC AP remain associated with longitudinal muscle layer (lighter triangular area). Scale, 100 μm.

From Thuneberg et al.


Figure 14.

Mouse small intestine. Intracellular records of electrical activity, all from same intestinal preparation, which is incubated in a medium with added methylene blue. A: unstained area. B, C, D, and inset: area with selectively stained ICC AP (cf. Fig. ), at time 10 min (B), 27 min (C), and 33 min (D) after sacrifice of animal. Arrow: He‐Ne laser on. Inset: impalement of another cell after 2‐min illumination. Laser illumination had no effect on slow waves in areas where ICC AP were unstained. Scales, 20 mV and 10 s.

From Thuneberg et al.


Figure 15.

Mouse small intestine; methylene blue staining of ICC AP and contraction nodes of smooth muscle cells (longitudinal muscle coat). Note correspondence between positions of ICC AP processes and contraction nodes. Scale, 50 μm.

From Thuneberg


Figure 16.

Mouse small intestine. Isolated musculature grown in tissue culture for a few days. Rim of tissue expiant at top right; from this has grown a bundle of parallel, ribbon‐shaped smooth muscle cells (SM, longitudinal axis indicated). N, nucleus of ramified, spontaneously contractile cell (ICC?), contacting several smooth muscle cells and connected by long, contractile process (arrows) to cells of expiant. Scale, 25 μm.



Figure 17.

Direct (left) and indirect (right) neural control of smooth muscle. 1) Axons; 2 and 3) intercalated cells of two types: a fibroblast‐like cell (2) and a macrophage‐like cell (3); 4) smooth muscle cell.

From Feyrter


Figure 18.

Mouse duodenum. ICC(AP) extending through entire thickness of longitudinal muscle. CAP, lumen of capillary between muscle layers. SER, serosal surface. ICC contacts two processes with ultrastructural characteristics of ICC SS. Scale, 5 μm.

Micrograph courtesy of J. J. Rumessen


Figure 19.

Guinea pig small intestine; Golgi method. Deep muscular plexus or plexus muscularis profundus (B, right) with associated ICC DMP (A, left). Meshes of plexus, and ICC, are elongated in direction parallel to cells of circular muscle (top to bottom); a, b, f, ICC; c, positions of unstained nuclei of Schwann cells; d, e, varicose axons and/or extensions of ICC.

From Ramón y Cajal b)


Figure 20.

Guinea pig ileum; transverse section of entire circular muscle layer. A single layer of cells (sd; small, dense cells) forms inner subdivision of circular muscle. Below this, elements of deep muscular plexus are present. Scale, 5 μm.

From Gabella


Figure 21.

Cytoarchitecture of inner part of circular muscle coat (small intestine). IL, inner layer; OL, outer layer; SC, Schwann cells. ICC DMP (ICC III) in close contact with axonal varicosities of the deep muscular plexus and connected with other ICC as well as with OL (but not IL) by numerous, large nexus junctions (N).



Figure 22.

Mouse small intestine. As many as 8 nexuses (arrows) connect ICC DMP (right) with cells of outer, circular muscle layer (middle and left). Scale, 1 μm.

From Rumessen et al.


Figure 23.

Mouse small intestine, deep muscular plexus. OL, IL, outer and inner layers of circular muscle; IC, ICC DMP: F, fibroblast‐like cell; M, macrophage‐like cell. Interstices and cell surfaces are stained with ruthenium red. Axon bundle is completely covered by processes of ICC DMP, which are interconnected by nexuses (arrows). At least 10 axonal varicosities are in intimate contact with ICC DMP. Scale, 1 μm.

From Rumessen et al.


Figure 24.

Mouse small intestine, deep muscular plexus. Strong adherence of vesiculated varicosities to ICC DMP is indicated. Interstices are artificially dilated due to excessive perfusion pressure during vascular fixation. However, despite dilation of interstices, varicosities preserve large areas of contact with ICC DMP but not with other neighboring cells. Scale, 1 μm.

From Rumessen et al.


Figure 25.

Mouse small intestine. Survey of deep muscular plexus (only part of axons are stained) and ICC DMP (cells with dark cytoplasm), as revealed by ZIO staining. Scale, 50 μm.

From Rumessen and Thuneberg


Figure 26.

Mouse small intestine. ICC DMP (IC) in synaptic contact with axonal varicosity (AV), containing small agranular vesicles and larger granular vesicles (cholinergic type). Note presynaptic densities and slightly increased density of postsynaptic membrane. ICC has basal lamina (arrows), which is similar to basal lamina of the adjacent muscle cells (IL, inner circular layer). Scale, 0.5 μm.

From Rumessen et al.


Figure 27.

Mouse small intestine. ICC CM in interstices of outer, main layer of circular muscle. Cell processes are in contact with axon bundle (below) and with smooth muscle cells, but synaptic specializations and nexuses are seldom seen in this location. Note absence of caveolae in ICC CM (cf. Figs. and ). Scale, 1 μm.

Micrograph courtesy of J. J. Rumessen


Figure 28.

Human esophagus. Diagram showing distribution of ICC: in connective tissue septa (I), at periphery of muscular bundles (II), and accompanying nerves within a muscular bundle (III). Arrows, exact locations of groups. ICC of groups II and III contact each other and muscle cells, as well as axons.

From Faussone‐Pellegrini and Cortesini


Figure 29.

Human esophageal body, middle third. An ICC (group III; see Fig. ) contacts smooth muscle cells by close appositions of membranes (arrows) as well as by intermediate‐type and gap junctions (boxed area: insets A,B). Axons (asterisks) are in contact with ICC. Scale, 0.5 μm.

From Faussone‐Pellegrini and Cortesini


Figure 30.

Opossum esophageal body. ICC (IC) in circular muscle is connected by gap junction (GJ) to adjacent smooth muscle cell. ICC is in close contact with axons (AX) and innervated (close, gap width <23 nm) by a varicosity, containing mainly small agranular vesicles (SAV). Dense cytoplasm is characterized by accumulations of free ribosomes (long arrow) and profiles of Golgi/endoplasmic reticulum (short arrow). A basal lamina is seen, covering part of the ICC surface. Scale, 0.2 μm.

From Daniel and Posey‐Daniel


Figure 31.

Lovebird gizzard. An ICC (IC) forms gap junction (arrow) with smooth muscle cell (Sm). ICC is in contact with bundle of axons (NF), one of which (ax) forms a varicosity with small agranular vesicles.

From Imaizumi and Hama


Figure 32.

Rabbit colon. The ICC (c) of taenia coli, associated with small axon bundle (n). Cell contacts several muscle cells (s) by slender processes. Scale, 5 μm.

From Komuro


Figure 33.

Rabbit colon. Scanning electron micrographs showing interstitial cells (c1, c2) that overlie a myenteric ganglion (A) and smooth muscle cells (s; B). p, Primary process. Scale, 10 μm.

From Komuro


Figure 34.

Rat colon; ZIO stain. ICC (iz) and axons of submuscular plexus (plexus entericus extremus). ICC form a network through contacts between their processes (double arrows), and varicose axons are closely associated with the cells (single arrows). Scale, 50 μm.

From Stach


Figure 35.

Mouse colon; ZIO stain. Three stereo pairs of same field, focused on submuscular plexus (A), circular muscle with its nerve supply (B), and Auerbach's plexus (C). Network of ICC is present in association with two nerve plexuses of A and C. Arrows point to corresponding images of ICC. Scale, 20 μm.



Figure 36.

Survey of observations of ICC in various regions of alimentary tract. LM, CM: longitudinal and circular muscle coats. Asterisks, ICC that may be specialized regulatory cells, as judged mainly from morphological studies of an intercalation of these cells between nerves and effector cells. Densities of asterisks reflect densities of ICC in various regions, as reported or suggested from illustrated material. Crosses, ICC of fibroblast‐like ultrastructure, perhaps with mainly supporting functions. Questions marks, data missing or of minor significance. Possibility of interconnections ICC AP/SS and ICC AP/CM/DMP in small intestine is indicated by dotted lines. Also, question of species variation in structure of colonic circular muscle is included.

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Lars Thuneberg. Interstitial cells of Cajal. Compr Physiol 2011, Supplement 16: Handbook of Physiology, The Gastrointestinal System, Motility and Circulation: 349-386. First published in print 1989. doi: 10.1002/cphy.cp060110