Functional reentry and circus movement arrhythmias in the small intestine of normal and diabetic rats

Wim J.E.P. Lammers, B. Stephen, S. M. Karam

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39 Citations (Scopus)


In a few recent studies, the presence of arrhythmias based on reentry and circus movement of the slow wave have been shown to occur in normal and diseased stomachs. To date, however, reentry has not been demonstrated before in any other part of the gastrointestinal system. No animals had to be killed for this study. Use was made of materials obtained during the course of another study in which 11 rats were treated with streptozotocin and housed with age-matched controls. After 3 and 7 mo, segments of duodenum, jejunum, and ileum were isolated and positioned in a tissue bath. Slow wave propagation was recorded with 121 extracellular electrodes. After the experiment, the propagation of the slow waves was reconstructed. In 10 of a total of 66 intestinal segments (15%), a circus movement of the slow wave was detected. These reentries were seen in control (n = 2) as well as in 3-mo (n = 2) and 7-mo (n = 6) diabetic rats. Local conduction velocities and beat-to-beat intervals during the reentries were measured (0.42 ± 0.15 and 3.03 ± 0.67 cm/s, respectively) leading to a wavelength of 1.3 ± 0.5 cm and a circuit diameter of 4.1 ± 1.5 mm. This is the first demonstration of a reentrant arrhythmia in the small intestine of control and diabetic rats. Calculations of the size of the circuits indicate that they are small enough to fit inside the intestinal wall. Extrapolation based on measured velocities and rates indicate that reentrant arrhythmias are also possible in the distal small intestine of larger animals including humans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)G684-G689
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2012


  • Diabetes
  • Slow wave
  • Wavelength

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Physiology (medical)


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