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Keywords:

  • ascending and sigmoid colon;
  • carbachol;
  • human;
  • smooth muscle;
  • vasoactive intestinal polypeptide

Abstract

Background  Differences in the actions of enteric neurotransmitters on colonic circular and longitudinal muscle layers have not been clearly determined, nor the possible existence of intrinsic myogenic phenotypes that might contribute to regional differences in human colon motor activity. The aim of this study was to analyze the direct pharmaco-mechanical coupling of carbachol (CCh) and vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) on human colonic smooth muscle strips and cells.

Methods  Circular and longitudinal muscle strips and cells were obtained from 15 human specimens of ascending and sigmoid colon. Both isometric tension on muscle strips and contraction and relaxation on cells were measured in response to increasing CCh and VIP concentrations.

Key Results  Circular muscle strips of ascending colon were more sensitive to the effect of CCh than that of sigmoid colon, EC50 values being, respectively, 4.15 μmol L−1 and 8.47 μmol L−1 (< 0.05), although there were no differences in maximal responses. No regional differences were observed in longitudinal muscle strips or in smooth muscle cells. Maximal responses to CCh were higher on circular than longitudinal muscle strips and cells throughout the colon. A greater sensitivity to VIP was observed in ascending colon compared with sigmoid colon, both in circular (EC50: 0.041 and 0.15 μmol L−1, respectively, P < 0.01) and longitudinal (EC50: 0.043 and 0.09 μmol L−1, respectively, P < 0.05) strips, and similar differences were observed in longitudinal smooth muscle cells (EC50: 44.85 and 75.24 nmol L−1, respectively, P < 0.05).

Conclusions & Inferences  Regional myogenic differences in pharmaco-mechanical coupling between the enteric neurotransmitters and smooth muscle contribute to the complex regional motor patterns of human colon.