Interstitial cells of cajal (ICC) are specialised cells located within the musculature of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT). Although they form only 5% of the cells in the musculature of the GIT, they play a critical role in regulating smooth muscle function and GIT motility in coordination with the enteric nervous system. C-kit is a transmembrane glycoprotein that plays a critical role in ICC development and maturation. Physiological conditions such as ageing, as well as pathological conditions that have different disease processes, negatively affect ICC networks and function. Absent or disordered ICC networks can be associated with disorders in GIT motility. This review highlights the mechanism of ICC recovery from various types of injury which entails understanding the development of ICC and the factors affecting it. ICC transformation into malignant tumours (gastrointestinal stromal tumours) and their potential as contributors to therapeutic resistance is also discussed.
Keywords: Cajal interstitial cells, Gastrointestinal tract, Diabetes mellitus, C-kit, Ageing, Gastrointestinal stromal tumors