Evidence showing that interstitial cells of Cajal have important regulatory functions in the gut musculature is accumulating. In the current study, the ultrastructure of the deep muscular plexus and associated interstial cells of Cajal in human small intestine were studied to provide a reference for identification and further physiological or pathological studies. The deep muscular plexus was sandwiched between a thin inner layer of smooth muscle (one to five cells thick) and the bulk of the circular muscle. Interstitial cells of Cajal in this region very much resembled smooth muscle cells (with a continuous basal lamina, caveolae, intermediate filaments, dense bodies, dense bands, and a well-developed subsurface smooth endoplasmic reticulum), but the arrangement of organelles was clearly different, and cisternae of granular endoplasmic reticulum were abundant. Interstitial cells of Cajal were distinguished from fibroblasts or macrophages in the region. They ramified in the inner zone of the outer division of circular muscle, penetrated the inner-most circular layer, and were also found at the submucosal border. They were in close, synapselike contact with nerve terminals of the deep muscular plexus, and only few gap junctions with other interstitial cells of Cajal or with the musculature were observed. Compared with interstitial cells of Cajal from other mammals, those associated with the deep muscular plexus in the human small intestine more closely resemble smooth muscle cells, and their organization appears more diffuse; however, the ultrastructure and organization of interstitial cells of Cajal is compatible with modulatory actions on the circular muscle also in humans.
|Status||Udgivet - jan. 1992|