Signal Transduction Processes in Sensorimotor Neurons of the Enteric Nervous System

  • Annmarie Surprenant
Conference paper
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (volume 79)


The enteric nervous system is comprised of two distinct neural networks arranged in layers, or plexuses, along the length of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The largest neural network is the myenteric plexus whose major function is to control movements of the visceral smooth muscle of the GI tract; the myenteric plexus is situated within the thin longitudinal smooth muscle on the outer surface of the gut. The submucosal plexus lies within a thin connective tissue sheath between the thick circular smooth muscle of the gut and the underlying intestinal mucosa; the submucosal plexus sheath also contains the submucosal arteriolar network (Figure 1). These arterioles supply the muscle and mucosa of the GI tract. Submucosal neurons subserve two primary functions: they act to modulate water and electrolyte transport in the intestinal mucosa and they provide vasodilator innervation to the submucosal arterioles. Informative and intellectually stimulating details of the structure and function of the enteric nervous system can be found in the elegant literary style of Furness and Costa7 with updates available in recent reviews.12,24 This chapter will summarise evidence that suggests a population of submucosal neurons can be considered “sensorimotor” neurons in that they appear to subserve either or both an afferent as well as an efferent role. The inhibitory innervation to these sensorimotor neurons and the signal transduction processes underlying this inhibition have been studied in detail; these signal transduction mechanisms also will be reviewed.


Vasoactive Intestinal Polypeptide Enteric Nervous System Myenteric Plexus Myenteric Neuron Potassium Conductance 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Annmarie Surprenant
    • 1
  1. 1.Vollum InstituteOregon Health Sciences UniversityPortlandUSA

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