Secretion in the large intestine

The large intestine secretes a thick mucinous secretion, which has a high content of water, mucus, potassium and bicarbonate ions. The alkaline mucus lubricates the intestinal walls, protects the mucosa from acidic bacterial action and helps lubricate the passage of stool.

Secretion in the colon is stimulated by distension and by the mechanical irritation of the colonic walls. Secretomotor neurones from the submucosal and myenteric plexus stimulate secretion through the release of acetylcholine and vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP). Stimulation of the parasympathetic pelvic nerves also results in secretion. Stimulation of the sympathetic nerves suppresses secretion in the large intestine due to the release of adrenalin and somatostatin. One clinical implication of this is the use of somatostatin analogues in the treatment of secretory diarrhoea.

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