Characterization of alternating neurogenic motor patterns in mouse colon

Marcello Costa, Lauren Keightley, Timothy J. Hibberd, Lukasz Wiklendt, David J. Smolilo, Phil G. Dinning, Simon J. Brookes, Nick J. Spencer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Colonic motor complexes (CMCs) have been widely recorded in the large intestine of vertebrates. We have investigated whether in the smooth muscle, a single unified pattern of electrical activity, or different patterns of electrical activity give rise to the different neurogenic patterns of motility underlying CMCs in vitro. Methods: To study differences of the CMCs between proximal and distal colon, we used a novel combination of techniques to simultaneously record muscle diameter and force at multiple sites along the whole mouse colon ex vivo. In addition, electrical activity of smooth muscle was recorded by suction electrodes. Key Results: Two distinct types of CMCs were distinguished; CMCs that propagated along the entire colon (complete CMC) and CMCs which were restricted to the proximal colon (incomplete CMC). The two types of CMC often occurred in the same preparations. Incomplete CMCs had longer bursts of smooth muscle action potentials than complete CMCs and propagated more slowly. Interestingly, both types of CMC were associated with similar frequency bursts of smooth muscle action potentials at ~2.4 Hz. In the most proximal colon, an additional firing frequency was detected close to ~7 Hz generating multiple peaks within each CMC. Conclusions & Inferences: We report distinct characteristics underlying complete and incomplete CMCs in isolated mouse colon. Recognizing these distinct patterns of motility will be important for future interpretation of analysis of murine colonic motility recordings. The identification of alternating patterns of motor activity in proximal colon, but not distal colon may reflect specific neural mechanisms for fecal pellet formation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere14047
Number of pages9
JournalNeurogastroenterology and Motility
Issue number5
Early online date30 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


  • colon
  • colonic migrating motor complex
  • colonic motility
  • enteric nervous system
  • peristalsis


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