Our understanding of the physiological roles played by interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC) in relation to gastrointestinal (GI) motility is still rudimentary. Nevertheless, studies into the pathophysiology of ICC are emerging at a rapid pace. Caution should be exercised, however, in assuming correlations between changes in Kit immunoreactivity, findings of ultrastructural abnormalities in ICC, and the pathophysiology and symptoms of the patients. Recent studies have revealed reduced numbers or the absence of ICC in small intestine and colon that do not exhibit normal peristaltic activity. Furthermore, important evidence is emerging that motor abnormalities in newborns may be associated with delayed maturation of the ICC network. These preliminary clinical studies provide plausible hypotheses toward the pathophysiology of certain motor disorders and strongly encourage basic scientific studies directed toward discovering the intrinsic properties of ICC as well as obtaining a deeper understanding of the physiological roles played by these cells.
- intestinal motility
- motility disorders
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↵* Fourth in a series of invited articles on Neural Injury, Repair, and Adaptation in the GI Tract.
- Copyright © 1998 the American Physiological Society