Innervation of the gastrointestinal tract

The gastrointestinal tract is also regulated by the autonomic nervous system, which has an intrinsic component and an extrinsic component. The extrinsic component is the sympathetic and parasympathetic innervation of the gastrointestinal tract. The intrinsic component is called the enteric nervous system. The enteric system is wholly contained within the wall of the gastrointestinal tract in the submucosal and myenteric plexuses.

Table 2.1 Neurocrines of the enteric nervous system.





Cholinergic neurons

Contraction of smooth muscle Relaxation of sphincters Î Salivary secretion Î Gastric secretion î Pancreatic secretion


Adrenergic neurons

Relaxation of smooth wall Contraction of sphincters î Salivary secretion

Vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP)

Neurons of mucosa

Relaxation of smooth muscle î Intestinal secretion î Pancreatic secretion

Î = increase in production of secretion.

Î = increase in production of secretion.

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