Developmental changes in postnatal murine intestinal interstitial cell of Cajal network structure and function.

Gao J, Sathar S, O'Grady G, Han J, Cheng LK
Ann Biomed Eng. 2014 42 (8): 1729-39

PMID: 24866568 · PMCID: PMC4106915 · DOI:10.1007/s10439-014-1021-9

The mammalian gastrointestinal (GI) tract undergoes rapid development during early postnatal life in order to transition from a milk to solid diet. Interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC) are the pacemaker cells that coordinate smooth muscle contractility within the GI tract, and hence we hypothesized that ICC networks undergo significant developmental changes during this early postnatal period. Numerical metrics for quantifying ICC network structural properties were applied on confocal ICC network imaging data obtained from the murine small intestine at various postnatal ages spanning birth to weaning. These imaging data were also coupled to a biophysically-based computational model to simulate pacemaker activity in the networks, to quantify how changes in structure may alter function. The results showed a pruning-like mechanism which occurs during postnatal development, and the temporal course of this phenomenon was defined. There was an initial ICC process overgrowth to optimize network efficiency and increase functional output volume. This was followed by a selective retaining and strengthening of processes, while others were discarded to further elevate functional output volume. Subsequently, new ICC processes were formed and the network was adjusted to its adult morphology. These postnatal ICC network developmental events may be critical in facilitating mature digestive function.

MeSH Terms (5)

Aging Animals Biological Clocks Interstitial Cells of Cajal Mice, Inbred BALB C

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