Motility in the isolated mouse colon: migrating motor complexes, myoelectric complexes and pressure waves


Andrew K. Powell, Centre for Drug Candidate Optimisation, Victorian College of Pharmacy, Monash University, 381 Royal Parade, Parkville 3052, Victoria, Australia.
Tel.: +61 3 9903 9038; fax: +61 3 9903 9052; e-mail:


This study has used mechanical, together with pressure/volume recordings or electrophysiological recordings, to investigate the spontaneous activity in isolated preparations of mouse colon. In the former preparations, when not distended with fluid, spontaneous colonic migrating motor complexes (CMMCs) were observed using isotonic transducers. When the colons were distended with fluid, CMMCs continued at an increased frequency and in addition were associated temporally, with rises in intraluminal pressure and pulses of distally ejected fluid. 5-Hydroxytryptamine (1 μmol L−1) or NG-nitro-l-arginine (100 μmol L−1) increased the frequency of propulsive activity and this activity was abolished by hexamethonium (500 μmol L−1). In a second preparation, myoelectric complexes recorded from circular muscle cells in colons using intracellular microelectrodes, were found to correlate in frequency and phase with CMMCs. The experiments indicate that CMMCs are intimately related to pressure waves in the fluid-filled viscus and the muscle membrane potential changes that have been recorded during myoelectric complexes are likely to be analogous to those occurring during fluid-filled propulsive activity.