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Three-dimensional observation of the fibroblast-like cells associated with the rat myenteric plexus, with special reference to the interstitial cells of Cajal

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Summary

An extensive cellular network becomes visible over the myenteric plexus of the rat after removal of the overlying tissues under the scanning electron microscope. The cells are mainly stellate and have many slender processes via which they interconnect. They form a three-dimensional network and are closely associated with the ganglia and nerve bundles, and also extend over the smooth muscle cells. They are considered to correspond to the interstitial cells of Cajal because of their peculiar arrangement and their topography. Transmission electron-microscopic evidence demonstrates that the majority of those cells have features of fibroblasts. Gap junctions and intermediate junctions are observed between these fibroblast-like cells, and also between them and smooth muscle cells. Examination of serial thin sections reveals that single fibroblast-like interstitial cells connect to both circular and longitudinal muscle cells via gap junctions. It is suggested that the network of interstitial cells conducts electrical signals.

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Correspondence to Dr. Terumasa Komuro.

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Komuro, T. Three-dimensional observation of the fibroblast-like cells associated with the rat myenteric plexus, with special reference to the interstitial cells of Cajal. Cell Tissue Res. 255, 343–351 (1989). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00224117

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Key words

  • SEM
  • TEM
  • Interstitial cell
  • Myenteric plexus
  • Rat