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Enterochromaffin (EC) cells (Kulchitsky cells) are a type of enteroendocrine cell[1] occurring in the epithelia lining the lumen of the digestive tract and the respiratory tract.

Contents

Function

They produce and contain about 90% of the body's store of serotonin (5-HT).

In the gastrointestinal tract, 5-HT is important in response to chemical, mechanical or pathological stimuli in the lumen. It activates both secretory and peristaltic reflexes, and activates vagal afferents (via 5-HT3 receptors) that signal to the brain (important in the generation of nausea). Ondansetron is an antagonist of the 5-HT3 receptor and is an effective anti-emetic.

Origin

Embryologically, the enterochromaffin cells are derived from the neural crest, a group of migratory cells derived from the ectoderm.

Etymology

They are called "entero"[2] meaning related to the gut and "chromaffin" because of a chromium salt reaction that they share with chromaffin cells of the adrenal medulla (adrenal glands). [3]

"Enterochromaffin-like cells"

Another population of chromaffin cells is found only in the stomach wall, called enterochromaffin-like cells (ECL). They look like EC cells but do not contain 5-HT.

ECL cells respond to acetylcholine released by the vagus nerve and they in turn release histamine, which will stimulate the parietal cells to produce gastric acid.

Pathophysiology

Neuroendocrine progenitor cells in the bronchial epithelium, the progenitors to Kulchitsky cells, have been implicated in the origin of small cell lung cancer. [4]

See also

References

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