NERVE SUPPLY TO GASTROINTESTINAL TRACT

NERVE SUPPLY TO GASTROINTESTINAL TRACT

GI tract has two types of nerve supply:

I. Intrinsic nerve supply

II. Extrinsic nerve supply.

INTRINSIC NERVE SUPPLY – ENTERIC NERVOUS SYSTEM

Intrinsic nerves to GI tract form the enteric nervous system that controls all the secretions and movements of GI tract. Enteric nervous system is present within the wall of GI tract from esophagus to anus. Nerve fibers of this system are interconnected and form two major networks called

1. Auerbach plexus

2. Meissner plexus.

These nerve plexus contain nerve cell bodies, processes of nerve cells and the receptors. The receptors

in the GI tract are stretch receptors and chemoreceptors. Enteric nervous system is controlled by extrinsic nerves.

1. Auerbach Plexus

Auerbach plexus is also known as myenteric nerve plexus. It is present in between the inner circular muscle layer and the outer longitudinal muscle layer.

Functions of Auerbach plexus

Major function of this plexus is to regulate the movements of GI tract. Some nerve fibers of this plexus

accelerate the movements by secreting the excitatory neurotransmitter substances like acetylcholine, serotonin and substance P. Other fibers of this plexus inhibit the GI motility by secreting the inhibitory neurotransmitters such as vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP), neurotensin and enkephalin.

2. Meissner Nerve Plexus

Meissner plexus is otherwise called submucus nerve plexus. It is situated in between the muscular layer and submucosal layer of GI tract.

Functions of Meissner plexus

Function of Meissner plexus is the regulation of secretory functions of GI tract. These nerve fibers cause

constriction of blood vessels of GI tract.

EXTRINSIC NERVE SUPPLY

Extrinsic nerves that control the enteric nervous system are from autonomic nervous system. Both sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions of autonomic nervous system innervate the GI tract.

Sympathetic Nerve Fibers

Preganglionic sympathetic nerve fibers to GI tract arise from lateral horns of spinal cord between fifth thoracic and second lumbar segments (T5 to L2). From here, the fibers leave the spinal cord, pass through the ganglia of sympathetic chain without having any synapse and then terminate in the celiac and mesenteric ganglia. The postganglionic fibers from these ganglia are distributed throughout the GI tract.

Functions of sympathetic nerve fibers

Sympathetic nerve fibers inhibit the movements and decrease the secretions of GI tract by secreting

the neurotransmitter noradrenaline. It also causes constriction of sphincters.

Parasympathetic Nerve Fibers

Parasympathetic nerve fibers to GI tract pass through some of the cranial nerves and sacral nerves. The preganglionic and postganglionic parasympathetic nerve fibers to mouth and salivary glands pass through facial and glossopharyngeal nerves. Preganglionic parasympathetic nerve fibers to esophagus,

stomach, small intestine and upper part of large intestine pass through vagus nerve. Preganglionic nerve

fibers to lower part of large intestine arise from second, third and fourth sacral segments (S2, S3 and S4) of spinal cord and pass through pelvic nerve. All these preganglionic parasympathetic nerve fibers synapse with the postganglionic nerve cells in the myenteric and submucus plexus.

Functions of parasympathetic nerve fibers

Parasympathetic nerve fibers accelerate the movements and increase the secretions of GI tract. The

neurotransmitter secreted by the parasympathetic nerve fibers is acetylcholine (Ach).

Preganglionic parasympathetic nerve fibers to esophagus, stomach, small intestine and upper part of large intestine pass through vagus nerve. Preganglionic nerve fibers to lower part of large intestine arise from second, third and fourth sacral segments (S2, S3 and S4) of spinal cord and pass through pelvic nerve. All these preganglionic parasympathetic nerve fibers synapse with the postganglionic nerve cells in the myenteric and submucus plexus.

Functions of parasympathetic nerve fibers

Parasympathetic nerve fibers accelerate the movements and increase the secretions of GI tract. The neurotransmitter secreted by the parasympathetic nerve fibers is acetylcholine (Ach).

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