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This article is the author's final published version in American Journal of Physiology.Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology, Volume 326, Issue 4, April 2024, Pages G398 - G410.

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Copyright © 2024 The Authors.


Major esophageal disorders involve obstructive transport of bolus to the stomach, causing symptoms of dysphagia and impaired clearing of the refluxed gastric contents. These may occur due to mechanical constriction of the esophageal lumen or loss of relaxation associated with deglutitive inhibition, as in achalasia-like disorders. Recently, immune inflammation has been identified as an important cause of esophageal strictures and the loss of inhibitory neurotransmission. These disorders are also associated with smooth muscle hypertrophy and hypercontractility, whose cause is unknown. This review investigated immune inflammation in the causation of smooth muscle changes in obstructive esophageal bolus transport. Findings suggest that smooth muscle hypertrophy occurs above the obstruction and is due to mechanical stress on the smooth muscles. The mechanostressed smooth muscles release cytokines and other molecules that may recruit and microlocalize mast cells to smooth muscle bundles, so that their products may have a close bidirectional effect on each other. Acting in a paracrine fashion, the inflammatory cytokines induce genetic and epigenetic changes in the smooth muscles, leading to smooth muscle hypercontractility, hypertrophy, and impaired relaxation. These changes may worsen difficulty in the esophageal transport. Immune processes differ in the first phase of obstructive bolus transport, and the second phase of muscle hypertrophy and hypercontractility. Moreover, changes in the type of mechanical stress may change immune response and effect on smooth muscles. Understanding immune signaling in causes of obstructive bolus transport, type of mechanical stress, and associated smooth muscle changes may help pathophysiology-based prevention and targeted treatment of esophageal motility disorders.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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