Gastrointestinal motility and its enteric actors in mechanosensitivity: past and present.

  • Mazet Bruno


Coordinated contractions of the smooth muscle layers of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract are required to produce motor patterns that ensure normal GI motility. The crucial role of the enteric nervous system (ENS), the intrinsic ganglionated network located within the GI wall, has long been recognized in the generation of the main motor patterns. However, devising an appropriate motility requires the integration of informations emanating from the lumen of the GI tract. As already found more than half a century ago, the ability of the GI tract to respond to mechanical forces such as stretch is not restricted to neuronal mechanisms. Instead, mechanosensitivity is now recognized as a property of several non-neuronal cell types, the excitability of which is probably involved in shaping the motor patterns. This brief review gives an overview on how mechanosensitivity of different cell types in the GI tract has been established and, whenever available, on what ionic conductances are involved in mechanotransduction and their potential impact on normal GI motility.