Unique Neural Circuit Connectivity of Mouse Proximal, Middle, and Distal Colon Defines Regional Colonic Motor Patterns

Andrea Nestor-Kalinoski, Kristen M. Smith-Edwards, Kimberly Meerschaert, Joseph F. Margiotta, Bartek Rajwa, Brian M. Davis, Marthe J. Howard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background & Aims: Colonic motor patterns have been described by a number of different groups, but the neural connectivity and ganglion architecture supporting patterned motor activity have not been elucidated. Our goals were to describe quantitatively, by region, the structural architecture of the mouse enteric nervous system and use functional calcium imaging, pharmacology, and electrical stimulation to show regional underpinnings of different motor patterns. Methods: Excised colon segments from mice expressing the calcium indicator GCaMP6f or GCaMP6s were used to examine spontaneous and evoked (pharmacologic or electrical) changes in GCaMP-mediated fluorescence and coupled with assessment of colonic motor activity, immunohistochemistry, and confocal imaging. Three-dimensional image reconstruction and statistical methods were used to describe quantitatively mouse colon myenteric ganglion structure, neural and vascular network patterning, and neural connectivity. Results: In intact colon, regionally specific myenteric ganglion size, architecture, and neural circuit connectivity patterns along with neurotransmitter-receptor expression underlie colonic motor patterns that define functional differences along the colon. Region-specific effects on spontaneous, evoked, and chemically induced neural activity contribute to regional motor patterns, as does intraganglionic functional connectivity. We provide direct evidence of neural circuit structural and functional regional differences that have only been inferred in previous investigations. We include regional comparisons between quantitative measures in mouse and human colon that represent an important advance in showing the usefulness and relevance of the mouse system for translation to the human colon. Conclusions: There are several neural mechanisms dependent on myenteric ganglion architecture and functional connectivity that underlie neurogenic control of patterned motor function in the mouse colon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-337.e3
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • Colonic Enteric Nervous System
  • Functional Neural Circuitry
  • Gastrointestinal
  • Quantitative Morphology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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