Ca²⁺ imaging and multiple microelectrode recording procedures were used to investigate a slow wave-like electrical rhythmicity in single bundle strips from the circular muscle layer of the guinea-pig gastric pylorus. The 'slow waves' (SWs) consisted of a pacemaker and regenerative component, with both potentials composed of more elementary events variously termed spontaneous transient depolarizations (STDs) or unitary potentials. STDs and SW pacemaker and regenerative potentials exhibited associated local and distributed Ca²⁺ transients, respectively. Ca²⁺ transients were often larger in cellular regions that exhibited higher basal Ca²⁺ indicator-associated fluorescence, typical of regions likely to contain intramuscular interstitial cells of Cajal (ICCIM). The emergence of rhythmicity arose through entrainment of STDs resulting in pacemaker Ca²⁺ transients and potentials, events that exhibited considerable spatial synchronicity. Application of ACh to strips exhibiting weak rhythmicity caused marked enhancement of SW synchronicity. SWs and underlying Ca²⁺ increases exhibited very high 'apparent conduction velocities' ('CVs') orders of magnitude greater than for sequentially conducting Ca²⁺ waves. Central interruption of either intercellular connectivity or inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor (IP₃R)-mediated store Ca²⁺ release in strips caused SWs at the two ends to run independently of each other, consistent with a coupled oscillator-based mechanism. Central inhibition of stores required much wider regions of blockade than inhibition of connectivity indicating that stores were voltage-coupled. Simulations, made using a conventional store array model but now including depolarization coupled to IP₃R-mediated Ca²⁺ release, predicted the experimental findings. The linkage between membrane voltage and Ca²⁺ release provides a means for stores to interact as strongly coupled oscillators, resulting in the emergence of Ca²⁺ phase waves and associated pacemaker potentials. This distributed pacemaker triggers regenerative Ca²⁺ release and resultant SWs.
The Journal of Physiology Vol. 548, Issue 1, p. 271-296