Physiol. Res. 52: 275-284, 2003


The Pacemaker Activity of Interstitial Cells of Cajal and Gastric Electrical Activity


Department of Pathophysiology, Faculty of Medicine, Comenius University, Bratislava, Slovak Republic, 1Third Department of Physiology, JW Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Received January 16, 2002
Accepted July 15, 2002

Interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC) are the pacemaker cells in the gut. They have special properties that make them unique in their ability to generate and propagate slow waves in gastrointestinal muscles. The electrical slow wave activity determines the characteristic frequency of phasic contractions of the stomach, intestine and colon. Slow waves also determine the direction and velocity of propagation of peristaltic activity, in concert with the enteric nervous system. Characterization of receptors and ion channels in the ICC membrane is under way, and manipulation of slow wave activity markedly alters the movement of contents through the gut. Gastric myoelectrical slow wave activity produced by pacemaker cells (ICC) can be reflected by electrogastrography (EGG). Electrogastrography is a perspective non-invasive method that can detect gastric dysrhythmias associated with symptoms of nausea or delayed gastric emptying.

Key words
Interstitial cells of Cajal • Gastric electrical activity • Pacemaker of the stomach • Kit-receptor • Electrogastrography

Reprint requests
Petra Čamborová, M.D., Department of Pathophysiology, Faculty of Medicine, Commenius University, Sasinkova 4, 81108 Bratislava, Slovak Republic, Fax: 00421 2 59357 601, e-mail:

© 2003 by the Institute of Physiology, Czech Academy of Sciences