Mechanisms underlying distension-evoked peristalsis in guinea pig distal colon: is there a role for enterochromaffin cells?

Nicholas Spencer, Sarah Nicholas, Lucy Robinson, Melinda Kyloh, Nicholas Flack, Simon Brookes, Vladimir Zagorodnyuk, Damien Keating

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    90 Citations (Scopus)


    The mechanisms underlying distension-evoked peristalsis in the colon are incompletely understood. It is well known that, following colonic distension, 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) is released from enterochromaffin (EC) cells in the intestinal mucosa. It is also known that exogenous 5-HT can stimulate peristalsis. These observations have led some investigators to propose that endogenous 5-HT release from EC cells might be involved in the initiation of colonic peristalsis, following distension. However, because no direct evidence exists to support this hypothesis, the aim of this study was to determine directly whether release of 5-HT from EC cells was required for distension-evoked colonic peristalsis. Real-time amperometric recordings of 5-HT release and video imaging of colonic wall movements were performed on isolated segments of guinea pig distal colon, during distension-evoked peristalsis. Amperometric recordings revealed basal and transient release of 5-HT from EC cells before and during the initiation of peristalsis, respectively. However, removal of mucosa (and submucosal plexus) abolished 5-HT release but did not inhibit the initiation of peristalsis nor prevent the propagation of fecal pellets or intraluminal fluid. Maintained colonic distension by fecal pellets induced repetitive peristaltic waves, whose intrinsic frequency was also unaffected by removal of the submucosal plexus and mucosa, although their propagation velocities were slower. In conclusion, the mechanoreceptors and sensory neurons activated by radial distension to initiate peristalsis lie in the myenteric plexus and/or muscularis externa, and their activation does not require the submucosal plexus, release of 5-HT from EC cells, nor the presence of the mucosa. The propagation of peristalsis and propulsion of liquid or solid content along the colon is entrained by activity within the myenteric plexus and/or muscularis externa and does not require sensory feedback from the mucosa, nor neural inputs arising from submucosal ganglia.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)G519-G527
    Number of pages9
    JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology-Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2011


    • Peristaltic reflex
    • Sensory neuron
    • Serotonin


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