Muscularis propria throughout the entire gastrointestinal tract including the esophagus is comprised of circular and longitudinal muscle layers. Based on the studies conducted in the colon and the small intestine, for more than a century, it has been debated whether the two muscle layers contract synchronously or reciprocally during the ascending contraction, and descending relaxation of the peristaltic reflex. Recent studies in the esophagus and colon prove that the two muscle layers indeed contract and relax together in almost perfect synchrony during ascending contraction, and descending relaxation of the peristaltic reflex, respectively. Studies in patients with various types of esophageal motor disorders reveal temporal disassociation between the circular and longitudinal muscle layers. We suggest that the discoordination between the two muscle layers plays a role in the genesis of esophageal symptoms, i.e., dysphagia and esophageal pain. Certain pathologies may selectively target one and not the other muscle layer, e.g. in eosinophilic esophagitis there is a selective dysfunction of the longitudinal muscle layer. In achalasia esophagus, swallows are accompanied by the strong contraction of the longitudinal muscle without circular muscle contraction. The possibility that the discoordination between two muscle layers plays a role in the genesis of esophageal symptoms, i.e., dysphagia and esophageal pain is discussed. The purpose of this review is to summarize the regulation and dysregulation of peristalsis by the coordinated and discoordinated function of circular and longitudinal muscle layers in health and diseased states.
- longitudinal Muscle
- transient relaxation
- vagus nerve
- Copyright © 2016, American Journal of Physiology- Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology