Interstitial cells of Cajal in the urethra
G. P. Sergeant *, K. D. Thornbury, N. G. McHale, M. A. Hollywood
Smooth Muscle Research Centre, Dundalk Institute of Technology, Dundalk, Co. Louth, Ireland.
Received: May 19, 2006; Accepted: May 26, 2006
The smooth muscle layer of the urethra generates spontaneous myogenic tone that is thought to make a major contribution to urinary continence. The mechanisms underlying generation of tone remain unclear, however recent studies from our laboratory highlighted a role for a specialised population of pacemaker cells which we originally referred to as interstitial cells (IC) and now term ICC. Urethra ICC possess an electrical pacemaker mechanism characterised by rhythmic activation of Ca2+-activated Cl- channels leading to spontaneous transient inward currents (STICs) under voltage clamp and spontaneous transient depolarisations (STDs) under current clamp conditions. Both STICS and STDs are now known to be associated with spontaneous Ca2+ oscillations that result from a complex interplay between release of Ca2+ from intracellular stores and Ca2+ influx across the plasma membrane. In this review we will consider some of the precise mechanisms involved in the generation of pacemaker activity and discuss how these are modulated by excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters.
Keywords: urethra • smooth muscle • pacemaker • interstitial cells of Cajal • calcium oscillations
Source: J. Cell. Mol. Med. Vol 10, No 2, 2006 pp. 280-291.