Korean J Physiol Pharmacol.  2006 Aug;10(4):193-198.

Methylene Blue-stained Interstitial Cells are Electrically Active in the Myenteric Board Freshly Prepared from the Murine Small Intestine

  • 1Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea. insuk@plaza.snu.ac.kr


Many gastrointestinal muscles show electrical oscillation, so-called "slow wave", originated from interstitial cells of Cajal (ICCs). Thus, a technique to freshly isolate the cells is indispensable to explore the electrophysiological properties of the ICCs. To apply an enzyme solution on the serosal surface for cell isolation, the intestine was inverted and 0.02% trypsin solution and 0.04% collagenase solution were applied to serosal cavity. After the enzyme treatment, mucosal layer was removed and longitudinal muscle layer was gently separated from the rest of tissue. The thin layer was stretched in the recording chamber and mounted on an inverted microscope. Using beta-escine, perforated whole cell patch clamp technique was used. Under a microscope, the tissue showed smooth muscle cells and interstitial cells around the myenteric plexus. Under voltage clamp condition, three types of membrane potential were recorded. One group of interstitial cells, which were positive to methylene blue and CD34, showed spontaneous outward current. These cells had bipolar shape and were considered as fibroblast-like cells because of their peculiar shape and arrangement. Another group, positive to c-kit and methylene blue, showed spontaneous inward current. These cells had more rounded shape and processes and were considered as ICCs. The third, positive to c-kit and had granules containing methylene blue, showed quiet membrane potentials under the voltage-clamp mode. These cells appeared to be resident macrophages. Therefore, in the freshly isolated thin tissue preparation, methylene blue could easily identify three types of cells rather than morphological properties. Using this method, we were able to study electrical properties of fibroblast and residential macrophage as well as myenteric ICCs.


Interstitial cells of Cajal; Isolation; Fibroblast-like cell; Methylene blue; Resident macrophage; Pacemaker
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