Slow wave propagation and plasticity of interstitial cells of Cajal in the small intestine of diabetic rats

Wim J.E.P. Lammers, H. M. Al-Bloushi, S. A. Al-Eisaei, F. A. Al-Dhaheri, B. Stephen, R. John, S. Dhanasekaran, S. M. Karam

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41 Citations (Scopus)


The number of myenteric interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC-MY), responsible for the generation and propagation of the slow wave in the small intestine, has been shown to decrease in diabetes, suggesting impairment of slow-wave (SW) propagation and related motility. To date, however, this expected decrease in SW propagation has neither been recorded nor analysed. Eleven rats were treated with streptozotocin and housed in pairs with 11 age-matched control animals. After 3 or 7 months, segments of duodenum, jejunum and ileum were isolated and divided into two parts. One part was processed for immediate freezing, cryosectioning and immunoprobing using anti-c-Kit antibody to quantify ICC-MY. The second part was superfused in a tissue bath, and SW propagation was recorded with 121 extracellular electrodes. In addition, a cellular automaton was developed to study the effects of increasing the number of inactive cells on overall propagation. The number of ICC-MY was significantly reduced after 3 months of diabetes, but rebounded to control levels after 7 months of diabetes. Slow-wave frequencies, velocities and extracellular amplitudes were unchanged at any stage of diabetes. The cellular automaton showed that SW velocity was not linearly related to the number of inactive cells. The depletion of ICC-MY is not as severe as is often assumed and in fact may rebound after some time. In addition, at least in the streptozotocin model, the initial reduction in ICC-MY is not enough to affect SW propagation. Diabetic intestinal dysfunction may therefore be more affected by impairments of other systems, such as the enteric system or the muscle cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1039-1048
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental Physiology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Physiology (medical)


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