human gastrointestinal tract
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The gastrointestinal tract (GI tract, digestive tract, alimentary canal) is the tract or passageway of the digestive system that leads from the mouth to the anus. The GI tract contains all the major organs of the digestive system, in humans and other animals, including the
esophagus The esophagus (American English) or oesophagus (British English; both ), non-technically known also as the food pipe or gullet, is an organ in vertebrates through which food passes, aided by peristaltic contractions, from the pharynx to the ...
,
stomach The stomach is a muscular, hollow organ in the gastrointestinal tract of humans and many other animals, including several invertebrates. The stomach has a dilated structure and functions as a vital organ in the digestive system. The stomach i ...
, and
intestines The gastrointestinal tract (GI tract, digestive tract, alimentary canal) is the tract or passageway of the digestive system that leads from the mouth to the anus. The GI tract contains all the major organs of the digestive system, in humans ...
. Food taken in through the mouth is digested to extract
nutrient A nutrient is a substance used by an organism to survive, grow, and reproduce. The requirement for dietary nutrient intake applies to animals, plants, fungi, and protists. Nutrients can be incorporated into cells for metabolic purposes or excret ...
s and absorb
energy In physics, energy (from Ancient Greek: ἐνέργεια, ''enérgeia'', “activity”) is the quantitative property that is transferred to a body or to a physical system, recognizable in the performance of work and in the form of heat a ...
, and the waste expelled at the anus as feces. ''Gastrointestinal'' is an adjective meaning of or pertaining to the stomach and intestines. Most animals have a "through-gut" or complete digestive tract. Exceptions are more primitive ones:
sponge Sponges, the members of the phylum Porifera (; meaning 'pore bearer'), are a basal animal clade as a sister of the diploblasts. They are multicellular organisms that have bodies full of pores and channels allowing water to circulate through t ...
s have small pores ( ostia) throughout their body for digestion and a larger dorsal pore (
osculum The osculum (plural "oscula") is an excretory structure in the living sponge, a large opening to the outside through which the current of water exits after passing through the spongocoel. Wastes diffuse into the water and the water is pumped th ...
) for excretion,
comb jellies Ctenophora (; ctenophore ; ) comprise a phylum of marine invertebrates, commonly known as comb jellies, that inhabit sea waters worldwide. They are notable for the groups of cilia they use for swimming (commonly referred to as "combs"), and ...
have both a ventral mouth and dorsal anal pores, while
cnidarians Cnidaria () is a phylum under kingdom Animalia containing over 11,000 species of aquatic animals found both in freshwater and marine environments, predominantly the latter. Their distinguishing feature is cnidocytes, specialized cells that the ...
and
acoels Acoela, or the acoels, is an order of small and simple invertebrates in the subphylum Acoelomorpha of phylum Xenacoelomorpha, a deep branching bilaterian group of animals, which resemble flatworms. Historically they were treated as an order of ...
have a single pore for both digestion and excretion. The human gastrointestinal tract consists of the
esophagus The esophagus (American English) or oesophagus (British English; both ), non-technically known also as the food pipe or gullet, is an organ in vertebrates through which food passes, aided by peristaltic contractions, from the pharynx to the ...
, stomach, and intestines, and is divided into the upper and lower gastrointestinal tracts. The GI tract includes all structures between the mouth and the anus, forming a continuous passageway that includes the main organs of digestion, namely, the
stomach The stomach is a muscular, hollow organ in the gastrointestinal tract of humans and many other animals, including several invertebrates. The stomach has a dilated structure and functions as a vital organ in the digestive system. The stomach i ...
,
small intestine The small intestine or small bowel is an organ in the gastrointestinal tract where most of the absorption of nutrients from food takes place. It lies between the stomach and large intestine, and receives bile and pancreatic juice through the p ...
, and
large intestine The large intestine, also known as the large bowel, is the last part of the gastrointestinal tract and of the digestive system in tetrapods. Water is absorbed here and the remaining waste material is stored in the rectum as feces before being r ...
. The complete
human digestive system The human digestive system consists of the gastrointestinal tract plus the accessory organs of digestion (the tongue, salivary glands, pancreas, liver, and gallbladder). Digestion involves the breakdown of food into smaller and smaller compone ...
is made up of the gastrointestinal tract plus the accessory organs of digestion (the
tongue The tongue is a muscular organ (anatomy), organ in the mouth of a typical tetrapod. It manipulates food for mastication and swallowing as part of the digestive system, digestive process, and is the primary organ of taste. The tongue's upper surfa ...
,
salivary gland The salivary glands in mammals are exocrine glands that produce saliva through a system of ducts. Humans have three paired major salivary glands (parotid, submandibular, and sublingual), as well as hundreds of minor salivary glands. Salivary gla ...
s,
pancreas The pancreas is an organ of the digestive system and endocrine system of vertebrates. In humans, it is located in the abdomen behind the stomach and functions as a gland. The pancreas is a mixed or heterocrine gland, i.e. it has both an end ...
,
liver The liver is a major Organ (anatomy), organ only found in vertebrates which performs many essential biological functions such as detoxification of the organism, and the Protein biosynthesis, synthesis of proteins and biochemicals necessary for ...
and
gallbladder In vertebrates, the gallbladder, also known as the cholecyst, is a small hollow organ where bile is stored and concentrated before it is released into the small intestine. In humans, the pear-shaped gallbladder lies beneath the liver, although ...
). The tract may also be divided into foregut,
midgut The midgut is the portion of the embryo from which most of the intestines develop. After it bends around the superior mesenteric artery, it is called the "midgut loop". It comprises the portion of the alimentary canal from the end of the foregut a ...
, and hindgut, reflecting the
embryological Embryology (from Greek ἔμβρυον, ''embryon'', "the unborn, embryo"; and -λογία, ''-logia'') is the branch of animal biology that studies the prenatal development of gametes (sex cells), fertilization, and development of embryos and ...
origin of each segment. The whole human GI tract is about nine metres (30 feet) long at
autopsy An autopsy (post-mortem examination, obduction, necropsy, or autopsia cadaverum) is a surgical procedure that consists of a thorough examination of a corpse by dissection to determine the cause, mode, and manner of death or to evaluate any di ...
. It is considerably shorter in the living body because the intestines, which are tubes of
smooth muscle tissue Smooth muscle is an involuntary non- striated muscle, so-called because it has no sarcomeres and therefore no striations (''bands'' or ''stripes''). It is divided into two subgroups, single-unit and multiunit smooth muscle. Within single-unit ...
, maintain constant
muscle tone In physiology, medicine, and anatomy, muscle tone (residual muscle tension or tonus) is the continuous and passive partial muscle contraction, contraction of the muscles, or the muscle's resistance to passive stretch during resting state.O’Sull ...
in a halfway-tense state but can relax in spots to allow for local distention and
peristalsis Peristalsis ( , ) is a radially symmetrical contraction and relaxation of muscles that propagate in a wave down a tube, in an anterograde direction. Peristalsis is progression of coordinated contraction of involuntary circular muscles, whic ...
. The gastrointestinal tract contains the gut microbiota, with some 4,000 different strains of
bacteria Bacteria (; singular: bacterium) are ubiquitous, mostly free-living organisms often consisting of one biological cell. They constitute a large domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typically a few micrometres in length, bacteria were among ...
having diverse roles in maintenance of immune health and
metabolism Metabolism (, from el, μεταβολή ''metabolē'', "change") is the set of life-sustaining chemical reactions in organisms. The three main functions of metabolism are: the conversion of the energy in food to energy available to run cell ...
, and many other
microorganism A microorganism, or microbe,, ''mikros'', "small") and ''organism'' from the el, ὀργανισμός, ''organismós'', "organism"). It is usually written as a single word but is sometimes hyphenated (''micro-organism''), especially in olde ...
s. Cells of the GI tract release
hormone A hormone (from the Greek participle , "setting in motion") is a class of signaling molecules in multicellular organisms that are sent to distant organs by complex biological processes to regulate physiology and behavior. Hormones are required ...
s to help regulate the digestive process. These
digestive hormones Digestive may refer to: Biology *Digestion, biological process of metabolism Food and drink * Digestif, small beverage at the end of a meal *Digestive biscuit A digestive biscuit, sometimes described as a sweet-meal biscuit, is a semi- sweet bi ...
, including
gastrin Gastrin is a peptide hormone that stimulates secretion of gastric acid (HCl) by the parietal cells of the stomach and aids in gastric motility. It is released by G cells in the pyloric antrum of the stomach, duodenum, and the pancreas. Gastrin ...
, secretin,
cholecystokinin Cholecystokinin (CCK or CCK-PZ; from Greek ''chole'', "bile"; ''cysto'', "sac"; ''kinin'', "move"; hence, ''move the bile-sac (gallbladder)'') is a peptide hormone of the gastrointestinal system responsible for stimulating the digestion of fat and ...
, and
ghrelin Ghrelin (; or lenomorelin, INN) is a hormone produced by enteroendocrine cells of the gastrointestinal tract, especially the stomach, and is often called a "hunger hormone" because it increases the drive to eat. Blood levels of ghrelin are hi ...
, are mediated through either
intracrine Intracrine refers to a hormone that acts inside a cell, regulating intracellular events. In simple terms it means that the cell stimulates itself by cellular production of a factor that acts within the cell. Steroid hormones act through intracellu ...
or
autocrine Autocrine signaling is a form of cell signaling in which a cell secretes a hormone or chemical messenger (called the autocrine agent) that binds to autocrine receptors on that same cell, leading to changes in the cell. This can be contrasted with p ...
mechanisms, indicating that the cells releasing these hormones are conserved structures throughout
evolution Evolution is change in the heritable characteristics of biological populations over successive generations. These characteristics are the expressions of genes, which are passed on from parent to offspring during reproduction. Variation ...
.


Human gastrointestinal tract


Structure

The structure and function can be described both as
gross anatomy Gross anatomy is the study of anatomy at the visible or macroscopic level. The counterpart to gross anatomy is the field of histology, which studies microscopic anatomy. Gross anatomy of the human body or other animals seeks to understand the rel ...
and as
microscopic anatomy Histology, also known as microscopic anatomy or microanatomy, is the branch of biology which studies the microscopic anatomy of biological tissues. Histology is the microscopic counterpart to gross anatomy, which looks at larger structures vis ...
or
histology Histology, also known as microscopic anatomy or microanatomy, is the branch of biology which studies the microscopic anatomy of biological tissues. Histology is the microscopic counterpart to gross anatomy, which looks at larger structures vis ...
. The tract itself is divided into upper and lower tracts, and the intestines
small Small may refer to: Science and technology * SMALL, an ALGOL-like programming language * Small (anatomy), the lumbar region of the back * ''Small'' (journal), a nano-science publication * <small>, an HTML element that defines smaller text ...
and
large Large means of great size. Large may also refer to: Mathematics * Arbitrarily large, a phrase in mathematics * Large cardinal, a property of certain transfinite numbers * Large category, a category with a proper class of objects and morphisms (or ...
parts.


Upper gastrointestinal tract

The upper gastrointestinal tract consists of the mouth,
pharynx The pharynx (plural: pharynges) is the part of the throat behind the mouth and nasal cavity, and above the oesophagus and trachea (the tubes going down to the stomach and the lungs). It is found in vertebrates and invertebrates, though its struc ...
,
esophagus The esophagus (American English) or oesophagus (British English; both ), non-technically known also as the food pipe or gullet, is an organ in vertebrates through which food passes, aided by peristaltic contractions, from the pharynx to the ...
,
stomach The stomach is a muscular, hollow organ in the gastrointestinal tract of humans and many other animals, including several invertebrates. The stomach has a dilated structure and functions as a vital organ in the digestive system. The stomach i ...
, and duodenum. The exact demarcation between the upper and lower tracts is the suspensory muscle of the duodenum. This differentiates the embryonic borders between the foregut and midgut, and is also the division commonly used by clinicians to describe gastrointestinal bleeding as being of either "upper" or "lower" origin. Upon
dissection Dissection (from Latin ' "to cut to pieces"; also called anatomization) is the dismembering of the body of a deceased animal or plant to study its anatomical structure. Autopsy is used in pathology and forensic medicine to determine the cause o ...
, the duodenum may appear to be a unified organ, but it is divided into four segments based upon function, location, and internal anatomy. The four segments of the duodenum are as follows (starting at the stomach, and moving toward the jejunum): bulb, descending, horizontal, and ascending. The suspensory muscle attaches the superior border of the ascending duodenum to the diaphragm. The suspensory muscle is an important anatomical landmark which shows the formal division between the duodenum and the jejunum, the first and second parts of the small intestine, respectively. This is a thin muscle which is derived from the
embryo An embryo is an initial stage of development of a multicellular organism. In organisms that reproduce sexually, embryonic development is the part of the life cycle that begins just after fertilization of the female egg cell by the male spe ...
nic
mesoderm The mesoderm is the middle layer of the three germ layers that develops during gastrulation in the very early development of the embryo of most animals. The outer layer is the ectoderm, and the inner layer is the endoderm.Langman's Medical E ...
.


Lower gastrointestinal tract

The lower gastrointestinal tract includes most of the
small intestine The small intestine or small bowel is an organ in the gastrointestinal tract where most of the absorption of nutrients from food takes place. It lies between the stomach and large intestine, and receives bile and pancreatic juice through the p ...
and all of the
large intestine The large intestine, also known as the large bowel, is the last part of the gastrointestinal tract and of the digestive system in tetrapods. Water is absorbed here and the remaining waste material is stored in the rectum as feces before being r ...
. In human anatomy, the intestine (bowel, or gut. Greek: éntera) is the segment of the gastrointestinal tract extending from the pyloric sphincter of the
stomach The stomach is a muscular, hollow organ in the gastrointestinal tract of humans and many other animals, including several invertebrates. The stomach has a dilated structure and functions as a vital organ in the digestive system. The stomach i ...
to the anus and as in other mammals, consists of two segments: the
small intestine The small intestine or small bowel is an organ in the gastrointestinal tract where most of the absorption of nutrients from food takes place. It lies between the stomach and large intestine, and receives bile and pancreatic juice through the p ...
and the
large intestine The large intestine, also known as the large bowel, is the last part of the gastrointestinal tract and of the digestive system in tetrapods. Water is absorbed here and the remaining waste material is stored in the rectum as feces before being r ...
. In humans, the small intestine is further subdivided into the duodenum,
jejunum The jejunum is the second part of the small intestine in humans and most higher vertebrates, including mammals, reptiles, and birds. Its lining is specialised for the absorption by enterocytes of small nutrient molecules which have been previou ...
, and
ileum The ileum () is the final section of the small intestine in most higher vertebrates, including mammals, reptiles, and birds. In fish, the divisions of the small intestine are not as clear and the terms posterior intestine or distal intestine m ...
while the large intestine is subdivided into the
cecum The cecum or caecum is a pouch within the peritoneum that is considered to be the beginning of the large intestine. It is typically located on the right side of the body (the same side of the body as the appendix (anatomy), appendix, to which i ...
, ascending, transverse, descending and sigmoid colon,
rectum The rectum is the final straight portion of the large intestine in humans and some other mammals, and the Gastrointestinal tract, gut in others. The adult human rectum is about long, and begins at the rectosigmoid junction (the end of the s ...
, and
anal canal The anal canal is the part that connects the rectum to the anus, located below the level of the pelvic diaphragm. It is located within the anal triangle of the perineum, between the right and left ischioanal fossa. As the final functional seg ...
.


=Small intestine

= The
small intestine The small intestine or small bowel is an organ in the gastrointestinal tract where most of the absorption of nutrients from food takes place. It lies between the stomach and large intestine, and receives bile and pancreatic juice through the p ...
begins at the duodenum and is a tubular structure, usually between 6 and 7 m long. Its mucosal area in an adult human is about . The combination of the circular folds, the villi, and the microvilli increases the absorptive area of the mucosa about 600-fold, making a total area of about for the entire small intestine. Its main function is to absorb the products of digestion (including carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, and vitamins) into the bloodstream. There are three major divisions: # Duodenum: A short structure (about 20–25 cm long) which receives chyme from the stomach, together with
pancreatic juice Pancreatic juice is a liquid secreted by the pancreas, which contains a number of digestive enzymes, including trypsinogen, chymotrypsinogen, elastase, carboxypeptidase, pancreatic lipase, nucleases and amylase. The pancreas is located in the ...
containing
digestive enzymes Digestive enzymes are a group of enzymes that break down polymeric macromolecules into their smaller building blocks, in order to facilitate their absorption into the cells of the body. Digestive enzymes are found in the digestive tracts of anima ...
and
bile Bile (from Latin ''bilis''), or gall, is a dark-green-to-yellowish-brown fluid produced by the liver of most vertebrates that aids the digestion of lipids in the small intestine. In humans, bile is produced continuously by the liver (liver bile ...
from the
gall bladder In vertebrates, the gallbladder, also known as the cholecyst, is a small hollow organ where bile is stored and concentrated before it is released into the small intestine. In humans, the pear-shaped gallbladder lies beneath the liver, although ...
. The digestive enzymes break down proteins, and bile
emulsifies An emulsion is a mixture of two or more liquids that are normally immiscible (unmixable or unblendable) owing to liquid-liquid phase separation. Emulsions are part of a more general class of two-phase systems of matter called colloids. Although ...
fats into
micelles A micelle () or micella () (plural micelles or micellae, respectively) is an aggregate (or supramolecular assembly) of surfactant amphipathic lipid molecules dispersed in a liquid, forming a colloidal suspension (also known as associated coll ...
. The duodenum contains
Brunner's glands Brunner's glands (or duodenal glands) are compound tubular submucosal glands found in that portion of the duodenum which is above the hepatopancreatic sphincter (i.e sphincter of Oddi). It also contains submucosa which creates special glands. ...
which produce a mucus-rich alkaline secretion containing
bicarbonate In inorganic chemistry, bicarbonate (IUPAC-recommended nomenclature: hydrogencarbonate) is an intermediate form in the deprotonation of carbonic acid. It is a polyatomic anion with the chemical formula . Bicarbonate serves a crucial biochem ...
. These secretions, in combination with bicarbonate from the pancreas, neutralize the stomach acids contained in the chyme. #
Jejunum The jejunum is the second part of the small intestine in humans and most higher vertebrates, including mammals, reptiles, and birds. Its lining is specialised for the absorption by enterocytes of small nutrient molecules which have been previou ...
: This is the midsection of the small intestine, connecting the duodenum to the ileum. It is about long and contains the circular folds also known as plicae circulares and villi that increase its surface area. Products of digestion (sugars, amino acids, and fatty acids) are absorbed into the bloodstream here. #
Ileum The ileum () is the final section of the small intestine in most higher vertebrates, including mammals, reptiles, and birds. In fish, the divisions of the small intestine are not as clear and the terms posterior intestine or distal intestine m ...
: The final section of the small intestine. It is about 3 m long, and contains villi similar to the jejunum. It absorbs mainly
vitamin B12 Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin involved in metabolism. It is one of eight B vitamins. It is required by animals, which use it as a cofactor in DNA synthesis, in both fatty acid and amino acid metabolism. It ...
and
bile acids Bile acids are steroid acids found predominantly in the bile of mammals and other vertebrates. Diverse bile acids are synthesized in the liver. Bile acids are conjugated with taurine or glycine residues to give anions called bile salts. Prima ...
, as well as any other remaining nutrients.


=Large intestine

= The
large intestine The large intestine, also known as the large bowel, is the last part of the gastrointestinal tract and of the digestive system in tetrapods. Water is absorbed here and the remaining waste material is stored in the rectum as feces before being r ...
also called the colon, consists of the
cecum The cecum or caecum is a pouch within the peritoneum that is considered to be the beginning of the large intestine. It is typically located on the right side of the body (the same side of the body as the appendix (anatomy), appendix, to which i ...
,
rectum The rectum is the final straight portion of the large intestine in humans and some other mammals, and the Gastrointestinal tract, gut in others. The adult human rectum is about long, and begins at the rectosigmoid junction (the end of the s ...
, and
anal canal The anal canal is the part that connects the rectum to the anus, located below the level of the pelvic diaphragm. It is located within the anal triangle of the perineum, between the right and left ischioanal fossa. As the final functional seg ...
. It also includes the appendix, which is attached to the
cecum The cecum or caecum is a pouch within the peritoneum that is considered to be the beginning of the large intestine. It is typically located on the right side of the body (the same side of the body as the appendix (anatomy), appendix, to which i ...
. The colon is further divided into: #
Cecum The cecum or caecum is a pouch within the peritoneum that is considered to be the beginning of the large intestine. It is typically located on the right side of the body (the same side of the body as the appendix (anatomy), appendix, to which i ...
(first portion of the colon) and appendix # Ascending colon (ascending in the back wall of the abdomen) # Right colic flexure (flexed portion of the ascending and transverse colon apparent to the
liver The liver is a major Organ (anatomy), organ only found in vertebrates which performs many essential biological functions such as detoxification of the organism, and the Protein biosynthesis, synthesis of proteins and biochemicals necessary for ...
) #
Transverse colon In human anatomy, the transverse colon is the longest and most movable part of the colon. Anatomical position It crosses the abdomen from the ascending colon at the right colic flexure (hepatic flexure) with a downward convexity to the descend ...
(passing below the diaphragm) #
Left colic flexure In the anatomy of the human digestive tract, there are two colic flexures, or curvatures in the transverse colon. The right colic flexure is also known as the hepatic flexure, and the left colic flexure is also known as the splenic flexure. Note ...
(flexed portion of the transverse and descending colon apparent to the
spleen The spleen is an organ found in almost all vertebrates. Similar in structure to a large lymph node, it acts primarily as a blood filter. The word spleen comes .
) # Descending colon (descending down the left side of the abdomen) # Sigmoid colon (a loop of the colon closest to the rectum) #
Rectum The rectum is the final straight portion of the large intestine in humans and some other mammals, and the Gastrointestinal tract, gut in others. The adult human rectum is about long, and begins at the rectosigmoid junction (the end of the s ...
#
Anal canal The anal canal is the part that connects the rectum to the anus, located below the level of the pelvic diaphragm. It is located within the anal triangle of the perineum, between the right and left ischioanal fossa. As the final functional seg ...
The main function of the large intestine is to absorb water and salts. The area of the large intestinal mucosa of an adult human is about .


Development

The gut is an
endoderm Endoderm is the innermost of the three primary germ layers in the very early embryo. The other two layers are the ectoderm (outside layer) and mesoderm (middle layer). Cells migrating inward along the archenteron form the inner layer of the gast ...
-derived structure. At approximately the sixteenth day of human development, the
embryo An embryo is an initial stage of development of a multicellular organism. In organisms that reproduce sexually, embryonic development is the part of the life cycle that begins just after fertilization of the female egg cell by the male spe ...
begins to fold
ventral Standard anatomical terms of location are used to unambiguously describe the anatomy of animals, including humans. The terms, typically derived from Latin or Greek language, Greek roots, describe something in its standard anatomical position. Th ...
ly (with the embryo's ventral surface becoming
concave Concave or concavity may refer to: Science and technology * Concave lens * Concave mirror Mathematics * Concave function, the negative of a convex function * Concave polygon, a polygon which is not convex * Concave set * The concavity of a ...
) in two directions: the sides of the embryo fold in on each other and the head and tail fold toward one another. The result is that a piece of the
yolk sac The yolk sac is a membranous sac attached to an embryo, formed by cells of the hypoblast layer of the bilaminar embryonic disc. This is alternatively called the umbilical vesicle by the Terminologia Embryologica (TE), though ''yolk sac'' is ...
, an
endoderm Endoderm is the innermost of the three primary germ layers in the very early embryo. The other two layers are the ectoderm (outside layer) and mesoderm (middle layer). Cells migrating inward along the archenteron form the inner layer of the gast ...
-lined structure in contact with the
ventral Standard anatomical terms of location are used to unambiguously describe the anatomy of animals, including humans. The terms, typically derived from Latin or Greek language, Greek roots, describe something in its standard anatomical position. Th ...
aspect of the embryo, begins to be pinched off to become the primitive gut. The yolk sac remains connected to the gut tube via the
vitelline duct In the human embryo, the vitelline duct, also known as the vitellointestinal duct, the yolk stalk, the omphaloenteric duct, or the omphalomesenteric duct, is a long narrow tube that joins the yolk sac to the midgut lumen of the developing fetus. ...
. Usually, this structure regresses during development; in cases where it does not, it is known as
Meckel's diverticulum A Meckel's diverticulum, a true congenital diverticulum, is a slight bulge in the small intestine present at birth and a vestigial remnant of the omphalomesenteric duct (also called the vitelline duct or yolk stalk). It is the most common malformat ...
. During
fetal A fetus or foetus (; plural fetuses, feti, foetuses, or foeti) is the unborn offspring that develops from an animal embryo. Following embryonic development the fetal stage of development takes place. In human prenatal development, fetal develo ...
life, the primitive gut is gradually patterned into three segments: foregut,
midgut The midgut is the portion of the embryo from which most of the intestines develop. After it bends around the superior mesenteric artery, it is called the "midgut loop". It comprises the portion of the alimentary canal from the end of the foregut a ...
, and hindgut. Although these terms are often used in reference to segments of the primitive gut, they are also used regularly to describe regions of the definitive gut as well. Each segment of the gut is further specified and gives rise to specific gut and gut-related structures in later development. Components derived from the gut proper, including the
stomach The stomach is a muscular, hollow organ in the gastrointestinal tract of humans and many other animals, including several invertebrates. The stomach has a dilated structure and functions as a vital organ in the digestive system. The stomach i ...
and colon, develop as swellings or dilatations in the cells of the primitive gut. In contrast, gut-related derivatives — that is, those structures that derive from the primitive gut but are not part of the gut proper, in general, develop as out-pouchings of the primitive gut. The blood vessels supplying these structures remain constant throughout development.


Histology

The gastrointestinal tract has a form of general histology with some differences that reflect the specialization in functional anatomy. The GI tract can be divided into four concentric layers in the following order: * Mucosa * Submucosa *
Muscular layer The muscular layer (muscular coat, muscular fibers, muscularis propria, muscularis externa) is a region of muscle in many organs in the vertebrate body, adjacent to the submucosa. It is responsible for gut movement such as peristalsis. The Latin, ...
*
Adventitia The adventitia () is the outer layer of fibrous connective tissue surrounding an organ. The outer layer of connective tissue that surrounds an artery, or vein – the tunica externa, is also called the ''tunica adventitia''. To some degree, its ...
or
serosa The serous membrane (or serosa) is a smooth tissue membrane of mesothelium lining the contents and inner walls of body cavities, which secrete serous fluid to allow lubricated sliding movements between opposing surfaces. The serous membrane ...


=Mucosa

= The mucosa is the innermost layer of the gastrointestinal tract. The mucosa surrounds the lumen, or open space within the tube. This layer comes in direct contact with digested food ( chyme). The mucosa is made up of: *
Epithelium Epithelium or epithelial tissue is one of the four basic types of animal tissue, along with connective tissue, muscle tissue and nervous tissue. It is a thin, continuous, protective layer of compactly packed cells with a little intercellul ...
– innermost layer. Responsible for most digestive, absorptive and secretory processes. *
Lamina propria The lamina propria is a thin layer of connective tissue that forms part of the moist linings known as mucous membranes or mucosae, which line various tubes in the body, such as the respiratory tract, the gastrointestinal tract, and the urogenita ...
– a layer of connective tissue. Unusually cellular compared to most connective tissue *
Muscularis mucosae The lamina muscularis mucosae (or muscularis mucosae) is a thin layer (lamina) of muscle of the gastrointestinal tract, located outside the lamina propria, and separating it from the submucosa. It is present in a continuous fashion from the es ...
– a thin layer of smooth muscle that aids the passing of material and enhances the interaction between the epithelial layer and the contents of the lumen by agitation and
peristalsis Peristalsis ( , ) is a radially symmetrical contraction and relaxation of muscles that propagate in a wave down a tube, in an anterograde direction. Peristalsis is progression of coordinated contraction of involuntary circular muscles, whic ...
The mucosae are highly specialized in each organ of the gastrointestinal tract to deal with the different conditions. The most variation is seen in the epithelium.


=Submucosa

= The submucosa consists of a dense irregular layer of connective tissue with large blood vessels, lymphatics, and nerves branching into the mucosa and
muscularis externa The muscular layer (muscular coat, muscular fibers, muscularis propria, muscularis externa) is a region of muscle in many organs in the vertebrate body, adjacent to the submucosa. It is responsible for gut movement such as peristalsis. The Latin, ...
. It contains the
submucosal plexus The submucosal plexus (Meissner's plexus, plexus of the submucosa, plexus submucosus) lies in the submucosa of the intestinal wall. The nerves of this plexus are derived from the myenteric plexus which itself is derived from the plexuses of parasy ...
, an enteric nervous plexus, situated on the inner surface of the ''muscularis externa''.


=Muscular layer

= The
muscular layer The muscular layer (muscular coat, muscular fibers, muscularis propria, muscularis externa) is a region of muscle in many organs in the vertebrate body, adjacent to the submucosa. It is responsible for gut movement such as peristalsis. The Latin, ...
consists of an inner circular layer and a
longitudinal Longitudinal is a geometric term of location which may refer to: * Longitude ** Line of longitude, also called a meridian * Longitudinal engine, an internal combustion engine in which the crankshaft is oriented along the long axis of the vehicl ...
outer layer. The circular layer prevents food from traveling backward and the longitudinal layer shortens the tract. The layers are not truly longitudinal or circular, rather the layers of muscle are helical with different pitches. The inner circular is helical with a steep pitch and the outer longitudinal is helical with a much shallower pitch. Whilst the muscularis externa is similar throughout the entire gastrointestinal tract, an exception is the stomach which has an additional inner oblique muscular layer to aid with grinding and mixing of food. The muscularis externa of the stomach is composed of the inner oblique layer, middle circular layer, and outer longitudinal layer. Between the circular and longitudinal muscle layers is the myenteric plexus. This controls peristalsis. Activity is initiated by the pacemaker cells, (myenteric interstitial cells of Cajal). The gut has intrinsic peristaltic activity (
basal electrical rhythm The basal or basic electrical rhythm (BER) or electrical control activity (ECA) is the spontaneous depolarization and repolarization of pacemaker cells known as interstitial cells of Cajal (ICCs) in the smooth muscle of the stomach, small intestine, ...
) due to its self-contained enteric nervous system. The rate can be modulated by the rest of the autonomic nervous system. The coordinated contractions of these layers is called
peristalsis Peristalsis ( , ) is a radially symmetrical contraction and relaxation of muscles that propagate in a wave down a tube, in an anterograde direction. Peristalsis is progression of coordinated contraction of involuntary circular muscles, whic ...
and propels the food through the tract. Food in the GI tract is called a bolus (ball of food) from the mouth down to the stomach. After the stomach, the food is partially digested and semi-liquid, and is referred to as chyme. In the large intestine the remaining semi-solid substance is referred to as
faeces Feces ( or faeces), known colloquially and in slang as poo and poop, are the solid or semi-solid remains of food that was not digested in the small intestine, and has been broken down by bacteria in the large intestine. Feces contain a relati ...
.


=Adventitia and serosa

= The outermost layer of the gastrointestinal tract consists of several layers of
connective tissue Connective tissue is one of the four primary types of animal tissue, along with epithelial tissue, muscle tissue, and nervous tissue. It develops from the mesenchyme derived from the mesoderm the middle embryonic germ layer. Connective tiss ...
.
Intraperitoneal The peritoneum is the serous membrane forming the lining of the abdominal cavity or coelom in amniotes and some invertebrates, such as annelids. It covers most of the intra-abdominal (or coelomic) organs, and is composed of a layer of mesothel ...
parts of the GI tract are covered with
serosa The serous membrane (or serosa) is a smooth tissue membrane of mesothelium lining the contents and inner walls of body cavities, which secrete serous fluid to allow lubricated sliding movements between opposing surfaces. The serous membrane ...
. These include most of the
stomach The stomach is a muscular, hollow organ in the gastrointestinal tract of humans and many other animals, including several invertebrates. The stomach has a dilated structure and functions as a vital organ in the digestive system. The stomach i ...
, first part of the duodenum, all of the
small intestine The small intestine or small bowel is an organ in the gastrointestinal tract where most of the absorption of nutrients from food takes place. It lies between the stomach and large intestine, and receives bile and pancreatic juice through the p ...
,
caecum The cecum or caecum is a pouch within the peritoneum that is considered to be the beginning of the large intestine. It is typically located on the right side of the body (the same side of the body as the appendix, to which it is joined). The wo ...
and appendix,
transverse colon In human anatomy, the transverse colon is the longest and most movable part of the colon. Anatomical position It crosses the abdomen from the ascending colon at the right colic flexure (hepatic flexure) with a downward convexity to the descend ...
, sigmoid colon and
rectum The rectum is the final straight portion of the large intestine in humans and some other mammals, and the Gastrointestinal tract, gut in others. The adult human rectum is about long, and begins at the rectosigmoid junction (the end of the s ...
. In these sections of the gut, there is a clear boundary between the gut and the surrounding tissue. These parts of the tract have a mesentery.
Retroperitoneal The retroperitoneal space (retroperitoneum) is the anatomical space (sometimes a potential space) behind (''retro'') the peritoneum. It has no specific delineating anatomical structures. Organs are retroperitoneal if they have peritoneum on thei ...
parts are covered with
adventitia The adventitia () is the outer layer of fibrous connective tissue surrounding an organ. The outer layer of connective tissue that surrounds an artery, or vein – the tunica externa, is also called the ''tunica adventitia''. To some degree, its ...
. They blend into the surrounding tissue and are fixed in position. For example, the retroperitoneal section of the duodenum usually passes through the
transpyloric plane The transpyloric plane, also known as Addison's plane, is an imaginary horizontal plane, located halfway between the suprasternal notch of the manubrium and the upper border of the symphysis pubis at the level of the first lumbar vertebrae, L1. It ...
. These include the
esophagus The esophagus (American English) or oesophagus (British English; both ), non-technically known also as the food pipe or gullet, is an organ in vertebrates through which food passes, aided by peristaltic contractions, from the pharynx to the ...
,
pylorus The pylorus ( or ), or pyloric part, connects the stomach to the duodenum. The pylorus is considered as having two parts, the ''pyloric antrum'' (opening to the body of the stomach) and the ''pyloric canal'' (opening to the duodenum). The ''pylori ...
of the stomach, distal duodenum, ascending colon, descending colon and
anal canal The anal canal is the part that connects the rectum to the anus, located below the level of the pelvic diaphragm. It is located within the anal triangle of the perineum, between the right and left ischioanal fossa. As the final functional seg ...
. In addition, the
oral cavity In animal anatomy, the mouth, also known as the oral cavity, or in Latin cavum oris, is the opening through which many animals take in food and issue vocal sounds. It is also the cavity lying at the upper end of the alimentary canal, bounded on t ...
has adventitia.


Gene and protein expression

Approximately 20,000 protein coding genes are expressed in human cells and 75% of these genes are expressed in at least one of the different parts of the digestive organ system. Over 600 of these genes are more specifically expressed in one or more parts of the GI tract and the corresponding proteins have functions related to digestion of food and uptake of nutrients. Examples of specific proteins with such functions are pepsinogen PGC and the lipase LIPF, expressed in
chief cells In human anatomy, there are three types of chief cells, the gastric chief cell, the parathyroid chief cell, and the type 1 chief cells found in the carotid body. Cell types The gastric chief cell (also known as a zymogenic cell or peptic cell) is a ...
, and gastric ATPase ATP4A and gastric intrinsic factor GIF, expressed in
parietal cell Parietal cells (also known as oxyntic cells) are epithelial cells in the stomach that secrete hydrochloric acid (HCl) and intrinsic factor. These cells are located in the gastric glands found in the lining of the fundus and body regions of the s ...
s of the stomach mucosa. Specific proteins expressed in the stomach and duodenum involved in defence include
mucin Mucins () are a family of high molecular weight, heavily glycosylated proteins (glycoconjugates) produced by epithelial tissues in most animals. Mucins' key characteristic is their ability to form gels; therefore they are a key component in most ...
proteins, such as mucin 6 and intelectin-1.


Transit time

The time taken for food to transit through the gastrointestinal tract varies on multiple factors, including age, ethnicity, and gender. Several techniques have been used to measure transit time, including radiography following a barium-labeled meal, breath
hydrogen Hydrogen is the chemical element with the symbol H and atomic number 1. Hydrogen is the lightest element. At standard conditions hydrogen is a gas of diatomic molecules having the formula . It is colorless, odorless, tasteless, non-toxic, an ...
analysis, scintigraphic analysis following a
radiolabeled A radioactive tracer, radiotracer, or radioactive label is a chemical compound in which one or more atoms have been replaced by a radionuclide so by virtue of its radioactive decay it can be used to explore the mechanism of chemical reactions by tr ...
meal, and simple ingestion and spotting of
corn kernel Corn kernels are the fruits of corn (called maize in many countries). Maize is a grain, and the kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable or a source of starch. The kernel comprise endosperm, germ, pericarp, and tip cap. One ear of corn contai ...
s. It takes 2.5 to 3 hours for 50% of the contents to leave the stomach. The rate of digestion is also dependent of the material being digested, as food composition from the same meal may leave the stomach at different rates. Total emptying of the stomach takes around 4–5 hours, and transit through the colon takes 30 to 50 hours.


Immune function

The gastrointestinal tract forms an important part of the
immune system The immune system is a network of biological processes that protects an organism from diseases. It detects and responds to a wide variety of pathogens, from viruses to parasitic worms, as well as cancer cells and objects such as wood splinte ...
.


=Immune barrier

= The surface area of the digestive tract is estimated to be about 32 square meters, or about half a badminton court. With such a large exposure (more than three times larger than the exposed surface of the skin), these immune components function to prevent pathogens from entering the blood and lymph circulatory systems. Fundamental components of this protection are provided by the
intestinal mucosal barrier The intestinal mucosal barrier, also referred to as intestinal barrier, refers to the property of the intestinal mucosa that ensures adequate containment of undesirable luminal contents within the intestine while preserving the ability to absorb n ...
, which is composed of physical, biochemical, and immune elements elaborated by the intestinal mucosa. Microorganisms also are kept at bay by an extensive immune system comprising the
gut-associated lymphoid tissue Gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) is a component of the mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) which works in the immune system to protect the body from invasion in the gut. Owing to its physiological function in food absorption, the mucosa ...
(GALT) There are additional factors contributing to protection from pathogen invasion. For example, low pH (ranging from 1 to 4) of the stomach is fatal for many
microorganism A microorganism, or microbe,, ''mikros'', "small") and ''organism'' from the el, ὀργανισμός, ''organismós'', "organism"). It is usually written as a single word but is sometimes hyphenated (''micro-organism''), especially in olde ...
s that enter it. Similarly,
mucus Mucus ( ) is a slippery aqueous secretion produced by, and covering, mucous membranes. It is typically produced from cells found in mucous glands, although it may also originate from mixed glands, which contain both serous and mucous cells. It ...
(containing IgA
antibodies An antibody (Ab), also known as an immunoglobulin (Ig), is a large, Y-shaped protein used by the immune system to identify and neutralize foreign objects such as pathogenic bacteria and viruses. The antibody recognizes a unique molecule of the ...
) neutralizes many pathogenic microorganisms. Other factors in the GI tract contribution to immune function include
enzyme Enzymes () are proteins that act as biological catalysts by accelerating chemical reactions. The molecules upon which enzymes may act are called substrates, and the enzyme converts the substrates into different molecules known as products. A ...
s secreted in the
saliva Saliva (commonly referred to as spit) is an extracellular fluid produced and secreted by salivary glands in the mouth. In humans, saliva is around 99% water, plus electrolytes, mucus, white blood cells, epithelial cells (from which DNA can be ...
and
bile Bile (from Latin ''bilis''), or gall, is a dark-green-to-yellowish-brown fluid produced by the liver of most vertebrates that aids the digestion of lipids in the small intestine. In humans, bile is produced continuously by the liver (liver bile ...
.


=Immune system homeostasis

= Beneficial bacteria also can contribute to the homeostasis of the gastrointestinal immune system. For example,
Clostridia The Clostridia are a highly polyphyletic class of Bacillota, including ''Clostridium'' and other similar genera. They are distinguished from the Bacilli by lacking aerobic respiration. They are obligate anaerobes and oxygen is toxic to them. S ...
, one of the most predominant bacterial groups in the GI tract, play an important role in influencing the dynamics of the gut's immune system. It has been demonstrated that the intake of a high fiber diet could be responsible for the induction of
T-regulatory cell The regulatory T cells (Tregs or Treg cells), formerly known as suppressor T cells, are a subpopulation of T cells that modulate the immune system, maintain tolerance to self-antigens, and prevent autoimmune disease. Treg cells are immunosu ...
s (Tregs). This is due to the production of
short-chain fatty acid Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) are fatty acids with fewer than six carbon atoms. Derived from intestinal microbial fermentation of indigestible foods, SCFAs are the main energy source of colonocytes, making them crucial to gastrointestinal healt ...
s during the fermentation of plant-derived nutrients such as
butyrate The conjugate acids are in :Carboxylic acids. {{Commons category, Carboxylate ions, Carboxylate anions Carbon compounds Oxyanions ...
and
propionate Propionic acid (, from the Greek words πρῶτος : ''prōtos'', meaning "first", and πίων : ''píōn'', meaning "fat"; also known as propanoic acid) is a naturally occurring carboxylic acid with chemical formula CH3CH2CO2H. It is a liqu ...
. Basically, the butyrate induces the differentiation of Treg cells by enhancing
histone H3 Histone H3 is one of the five main histones involved in the structure of chromatin in eukaryotic cells. Featuring a main globular domain and a long N-terminal tail, H3 is involved with the structure of the nucleosomes of the 'beads on a stri ...
acetylation in the promoter and conserved non-coding sequence regions of the
FOXP3 FOXP3 ( forkhead box P3), also known as scurfin, is a protein involved in immune system responses. A member of the FOX protein family, FOXP3 appears to function as a master regulator of the regulatory pathway in the development and function of ...
locus, thus regulating the
T cells A T cell is a type of lymphocyte. T cells are one of the important white blood cells of the immune system and play a central role in the adaptive immune response. T cells can be distinguished from other lymphocytes by the presence of a T-cell re ...
, resulting in the reduction of the inflammatory response and allergies.


Intestinal microbiota

The large intestine hosts several kinds of
bacteria Bacteria (; singular: bacterium) are ubiquitous, mostly free-living organisms often consisting of one biological cell. They constitute a large domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typically a few micrometres in length, bacteria were among ...
that can deal with molecules that the human body cannot otherwise break down. This is an example of
symbiosis Symbiosis (from Greek , , "living together", from , , "together", and , bíōsis, "living") is any type of a close and long-term biological interaction between two different biological organisms, be it mutualistic, commensalistic, or parasit ...
. These bacteria also account for the production of gases at host-pathogen interface inside the intestine (this gas is released as '' flatulence'' when eliminated through the anus). However the large intestine is mainly concerned with the absorption of water from digested material (which is regulated by the
hypothalamus The hypothalamus () is a part of the brain that contains a number of small nuclei with a variety of functions. One of the most important functions is to link the nervous system to the endocrine system via the pituitary gland. The hypothalamu ...
) and the reabsorption of
sodium Sodium is a chemical element with the symbol Na (from Latin ''natrium'') and atomic number 11. It is a soft, silvery-white, highly reactive metal. Sodium is an alkali metal, being in group 1 of the periodic table. Its only stable iso ...
, as well as any nutrients that may have escaped primary digestion in the ileum. Health-enhancing
intestinal bacteria Gut microbiota, gut microbiome, or gut flora, are the microorganisms, including bacteria, archaea, fungi, and viruses that live in the digestive tracts of animals. The gastrointestinal metagenome is the aggregate of all the genomes of the gut mic ...
of the gut flora serve to prevent the overgrowth of potentially harmful
bacteria Bacteria (; singular: bacterium) are ubiquitous, mostly free-living organisms often consisting of one biological cell. They constitute a large domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typically a few micrometres in length, bacteria were among ...
in the gut. These two types of bacteria compete for space and "food", as there are limited resources within the intestinal tract. A ratio of 80-85% beneficial to 15–20% potentially harmful bacteria generally is considered normal within the intestines, and maintains
homeostasis In biology, homeostasis (British English, British also homoeostasis) Help:IPA/English, (/hɒmɪə(ʊ)ˈsteɪsɪs/) is the state of steady internal, physics, physical, and chemistry, chemical conditions maintained by organism, living systems. Thi ...
. A bad ratio of potentially harmful bacteria may disrupt this balance and cause dysbiosis.


Detoxification and drug metabolism

Enzyme Enzymes () are proteins that act as biological catalysts by accelerating chemical reactions. The molecules upon which enzymes may act are called substrates, and the enzyme converts the substrates into different molecules known as products. A ...
s such as
CYP3A4 Cytochrome P450 3A4 (abbreviated CYP3A4) () is an important enzyme in the body, mainly found in the liver and in the intestine. It oxidizes small foreign organic molecules (xenobiotics), such as toxins or drugs, so that they can be removed from t ...
, along with the antiporter activities, are also instrumental in the intestine's role of
drug metabolism Drug metabolism is the metabolic breakdown of drugs by living organisms, usually through specialized enzymatic systems. More generally, xenobiotic metabolism (from the Greek xenos "stranger" and biotic "related to living beings") is the set o ...
in the detoxification of
antigen In immunology, an antigen (Ag) is a molecule or molecular structure or any foreign particulate matter or a pollen grain that can bind to a specific antibody or T-cell receptor. The presence of antigens in the body may trigger an immune respons ...
s and
xenobiotic A xenobiotic is a chemical substance found within an organism that is not naturally produced or expected to be present within the organism. It can also cover substances that are present in much higher concentrations than are usual. Natural compo ...
s.


Clinical significance


Diseases

There are many diseases and conditions that can affect the gastrointestinal system, including
infection An infection is the invasion of tissues by pathogens, their multiplication, and the reaction of host tissues to the infectious agent and the toxins they produce. An infectious disease, also known as a transmissible disease or communicable dise ...
s,
inflammation Inflammation (from la, wikt:en:inflammatio#Latin, inflammatio) is part of the complex biological response of body tissues to harmful stimuli, such as pathogens, damaged cells, or Irritation, irritants, and is a protective response involving im ...
and
cancer Cancer is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body. These contrast with benign tumors, which do not spread. Possible signs and symptoms include a lump, abnormal b ...
. Various
pathogen In biology, a pathogen ( el, πάθος, "suffering", "passion" and , "producer of") in the oldest and broadest sense, is any organism or agent that can produce disease. A pathogen may also be referred to as an infectious agent, or simply a germ ...
s, such as
bacteria Bacteria (; singular: bacterium) are ubiquitous, mostly free-living organisms often consisting of one biological cell. They constitute a large domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typically a few micrometres in length, bacteria were among ...
that cause
foodborne illness Foodborne illness (also foodborne disease and food poisoning) is any illness resulting from the spoilage of contaminated food by pathogenic bacteria, viruses, or parasites that contaminate food, as well as prions (the agents of mad cow disease) ...
es, can induce
gastroenteritis Gastroenteritis, also known as infectious diarrhea and gastro, is an inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract including the stomach and intestine. Symptoms may include diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Fever, lack of energy, and dehydra ...
which results from
inflammation Inflammation (from la, wikt:en:inflammatio#Latin, inflammatio) is part of the complex biological response of body tissues to harmful stimuli, such as pathogens, damaged cells, or Irritation, irritants, and is a protective response involving im ...
of the stomach and small intestine.
Antibiotic An antibiotic is a type of antimicrobial substance active against bacteria. It is the most important type of antibacterial agent for fighting bacterial infections, and antibiotic medications are widely used in the treatment and prevention of ...
s to treat such bacterial infections can decrease the
microbiome A microbiome () is the community of microorganisms that can usually be found living together in any given habitat. It was defined more precisely in 1988 by Whipps ''et al.'' as "a characteristic microbial community occupying a reasonably wel ...
diversity of the gastrointestinal tract, and further enable inflammatory mediators. Gastroenteritis is the most common disease of the GI tract. * Gastrointestinal cancer may occur at any point in the gastrointestinal tract, and includes
mouth cancer Oral cancer, also known as mouth cancer, is cancer of the lining of the lips, mouth, or upper throat. In the mouth, it most commonly starts as a painless white patch, that thickens, develops red patches, an ulcer, and continues to grow. When on ...
,
tongue cancer Oral cancer, also known as mouth cancer, is cancer of the lining of the lips, mouth, or upper throat. In the mouth, it most commonly starts as a painless white patch, that thickens, develops red patches, an ulcer, and continues to grow. When on ...
,
oesophageal cancer Esophageal cancer is cancer arising from the esophagus—the food pipe that runs between the throat and the stomach. Symptoms often include difficulty in swallowing and weight loss. Other symptoms may include pain when swallowing, a hoarse voi ...
, stomach cancer, and
colorectal cancer Colorectal cancer (CRC), also known as bowel cancer, colon cancer, or rectal cancer, is the development of cancer from the colon or rectum (parts of the large intestine). Signs and symptoms may include blood in the stool, a change in bowel m ...
. * Inflammatory conditions.
Ileitis Ileitis is an inflammation of the ileum, a portion of the small intestine. Crohn's ileitis is a type of Crohn's disease Crohn's disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that may affect any segment of the gastrointestinal tract. ...
is an inflammation of the
ileum The ileum () is the final section of the small intestine in most higher vertebrates, including mammals, reptiles, and birds. In fish, the divisions of the small intestine are not as clear and the terms posterior intestine or distal intestine m ...
,
colitis Colitis is swelling or inflammation of the large intestine ( colon). Colitis may be acute and self-limited or long-term. It broadly fits into the category of digestive diseases. In a medical context, the label ''colitis'' (without qualification ...
is an inflammation of the
large intestine The large intestine, also known as the large bowel, is the last part of the gastrointestinal tract and of the digestive system in tetrapods. Water is absorbed here and the remaining waste material is stored in the rectum as feces before being r ...
. *
Appendicitis Appendicitis is inflammation of the appendix. Symptoms commonly include right lower abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and decreased appetite. However, approximately 40% of people do not have these typical symptoms. Severe complications of a rup ...
is inflammation of the appendix located at the caecum. This is a potentially fatal condition if left untreated; most cases of appendicitis require surgical intervention.
Diverticular disease Diverticular disease is when problems occur due to diverticulosis, a condition defined by the presence of pouches in the wall of the large intestine (diverticula). This includes diverticula becoming inflamed (diverticulitis) or bleeding. Colonic p ...
is a condition that is very common in older people in industrialized countries. It usually affects the large intestine but has been known to affect the small intestine as well. Diverticulosis occurs when pouches form on the intestinal wall. Once the pouches become inflamed it is known as diverticulitis. Inflammatory bowel disease is an inflammatory condition affecting the bowel walls, and includes the subtypes Crohn's disease and
ulcerative colitis Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a long-term condition that results in inflammation and ulcers of the colon and rectum. The primary symptoms of active disease are abdominal pain and diarrhea mixed with blood (hematochezia). Weight loss, fever, and ...
. While Crohn's can affect the entire gastrointestinal tract, ulcerative colitis is limited to the large intestine. Crohn's disease is widely regarded as an autoimmune disease. Although ulcerative colitis is often treated as though it were an autoimmune disease, there is no consensus that it actually is such.
Functional gastrointestinal disorder Functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGID), also known as disorders of gut–brain interaction, include a number of separate idiopathic disorders which affect different parts of the gastrointestinal tract and involve visceral hypersensitivity ...
s the most common of which is
irritable bowel syndrome Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a "disorder of gut-brain interaction" characterized by a group of symptoms that commonly include abdominal pain and or abdominal bloating and changes in the consistency of bowel movements. These symptoms may ...
. Functional constipation and
chronic functional abdominal pain Chronic functional abdominal pain (CFAP) or functional abdominal pain syndrome (FAPS) is the ongoing presence of abdominal pain for which there is no known medical explanation, and has the potential to interfere with all aspects of daily functioni ...
are other functional disorders of the intestine that have physiological causes but do not have identifiable structural, chemical, or infectious pathologies.


Symptoms

Several symptoms are used to indicate problems with the gastrointestinal tract: *
Vomiting Vomiting (also known as emesis and throwing up) is the involuntary, forceful expulsion of the contents of one's stomach through the mouth and sometimes the nose. Vomiting can be the result of ailments like food poisoning, gastroenteri ...
, which may include regurgitation of food or the vomiting of blood *
Diarrhea Diarrhea, also spelled diarrhoea, is the condition of having at least three loose, liquid, or watery bowel movements each day. It often lasts for a few days and can result in dehydration due to fluid loss. Signs of dehydration often begin wi ...
, or the passage of liquid or more frequent stools *
Constipation Constipation is a bowel dysfunction that makes bowel movements infrequent or hard to pass. The stool is often hard and dry. Other symptoms may include abdominal pain, bloating, and feeling as if one has not completely passed the bowel movement ...
, which refers to the passage of fewer and hardened stools * Blood in stool, which includes fresh red blood, maroon-coloured blood, and tarry-coloured blood


Treatment

Gastrointestinal surgery Digestive system surgery, or gastrointestinal surgery, can be divided into upper GI surgery and lower GI surgery. Subtypes Upper gastrointestinal Upper gastrointestinal surgery, often referred to as upper GI surgery, refers to a practise of surg ...
can often be performed in the outpatient setting. In the United States in 2012, operations on the digestive system accounted for 3 of the 25 most common ambulatory surgery procedures and constituted 9.1 percent of all outpatient ambulatory surgeries.


Imaging

Various methods of imaging the gastrointestinal tract include the upper and
lower gastrointestinal series A lower gastrointestinal series is a medical procedure used to examine and diagnose problems with the human colon of the large intestine. Radiographs (X-ray pictures) are taken while barium sulfate, a radiocontrast agent, fills the colon via a ...
: *
Radioopaque Radiodensity (or radiopacity) is opacity to the radio wave and X-ray portion of the electromagnetic spectrum: that is, the relative inability of those kinds of electromagnetic radiation to pass through a particular material. Radiolucency or hypod ...
dyes may be swallowed to produce a barium swallow * Parts of the tract may be visualised by camera. This is known as
endoscopy An endoscopy is a procedure used in medicine to look inside the body. The endoscopy procedure uses an endoscope to examine the interior of a hollow organ or cavity of the body. Unlike many other medical imaging techniques, endoscopes are insert ...
if examining the upper gastrointestinal tract and colonoscopy or
sigmoidoscopy Sigmoidoscopy (from the Greek term for letter " s/ς" + "eidos" + "scopy": namely, to look inside an "s"/"ς"-like object) is the minimally invasive medical examination of the large intestine from the rectum through to the nearest part of the co ...
if examining the lower gastrointestinal tract.
Capsule endoscopy Capsule endoscopy is a medical procedure used to record internal images of the gastrointestinal tract for use in disease diagnosis. Newer developments are also able to take biopsies and release medication at specific locations of the entire g ...
is where a capsule containing a camera is swallowed in order to examine the tract.
Biopsies A biopsy is a medical test commonly performed by a surgeon, interventional radiologist, or an interventional cardiologist. The process involves extraction of sample cells or tissues for examination to determine the presence or extent of a dise ...
may also be taken when examined. * An
abdominal x-ray An abdominal x-ray is an Projectional radiography, x-ray of the abdomen. It is sometimes abbreviated to AXR, or kidneys, ureters, and bladder, KUB (for kidneys, ureters, and urinary bladder). Indications In children, abdominal x-ray is indicated ...
may be used to examine the lower gastrointestinal tract.


Other related diseases

*
Cholera Cholera is an infection of the small intestine by some strains of the bacterium ''Vibrio cholerae''. Symptoms may range from none, to mild, to severe. The classic symptom is large amounts of watery diarrhea that lasts a few days. Vomiting and ...
* Enteric duplication cyst *
Giardiasis Giardiasis is a parasitic disease caused by ''Giardia duodenalis'' (also known as ''G. lamblia'' and ''G. intestinalis''). Infected individuals who experience symptoms (about 10% have no symptoms) may have diarrhea, abdominal pain, and weight los ...
*
Pancreatitis Pancreatitis is a condition characterized by inflammation of the pancreas. The pancreas is a large organ behind the stomach that produces digestive enzymes and a number of hormones. There are two main types: acute pancreatitis, and chronic pancr ...
*
Peptic ulcer disease Peptic ulcer disease (PUD) is a break in the inner lining of the stomach, the first part of the small intestine, or sometimes the lower esophagus. An ulcer in the stomach is called a gastric ulcer, while one in the first part of the intestines ...
*
Yellow fever Yellow fever is a viral disease of typically short duration. In most cases, symptoms include fever, chills, loss of appetite, nausea, muscle pains – particularly in the back – and headaches. Symptoms typically improve within five days. In ...
* ''
Helicobacter pylori ''Helicobacter pylori'', previously known as ''Campylobacter pylori'', is a gram-negative, microaerophilic, spiral (helical) bacterium usually found in the stomach. Its helical shape (from which the genus name, helicobacter, derives) is though ...
'' is a
gram-negative Gram-negative bacteria are bacteria that do not retain the crystal violet stain used in the Gram staining method of bacterial differentiation. They are characterized by their cell envelopes, which are composed of a thin peptidoglycan cell wall ...
spiral bacterium. Over half the world's population is infected with it, mainly during childhood; it is not certain how the disease is transmitted. It colonizes the gastrointestinal system, predominantly the stomach. The bacterium has specific survival conditions that are specific to the human gastric microenvironment: it is both capnophilic and
microaerophilic A microaerophile is a microorganism that requires environments containing lower levels of dioxygen than that are present in the atmosphere (i.e. < 21% O2; typically 2–10% O2) for optimal growth. A more r ...
. ''Helicobacter'' also exhibits a
tropism A tropism is a biological phenomenon, indicating growth or turning movement of a biological organism, usually a plant, in response to an environmental stimulus. In tropisms, this response is dependent on the direction of the stimulus (as oppos ...
for gastric epithelial lining and the gastric mucosal layer about it. Gastric colonization of this bacterium triggers a robust immune response leading to moderate to severe
inflammation Inflammation (from la, wikt:en:inflammatio#Latin, inflammatio) is part of the complex biological response of body tissues to harmful stimuli, such as pathogens, damaged cells, or Irritation, irritants, and is a protective response involving im ...
, known as
gastritis Gastritis is inflammation of the lining of the stomach. It may occur as a short episode or may be of a long duration. There may be no symptoms but, when symptoms are present, the most common is upper abdominal pain (see dyspepsia). Other possi ...
. Signs and symptoms of infection are gastritis, burning abdominal pain, weight loss, loss of appetite, bloating, burping, nausea, bloody vomit, and black tarry stools. Infection can be detected in a number of ways: GI X-rays, endoscopy, blood tests for anti-''Helicobacter'' antibodies, a stool test, and a urease breath test (which is a by-product of the bacteria). If caught soon enough, it can be treated with three doses of different proton pump inhibitors as well as two antibiotics, taking about a week to cure. If not caught soon enough, surgery may be required. *
Intestinal pseudo-obstruction Intestinal pseudo-obstruction (IPO) is a clinical syndrome caused by severe impairment in the ability of the intestines to push food through. It is characterized by the signs and symptoms of Bowel obstruction, intestinal obstruction without any les ...
is a syndrome caused by a malformation of the digestive system, characterized by a severe impairment in the ability of the intestines to push and assimilate. Symptoms include daily abdominal and stomach pain, nausea, severe distension, vomiting, heartburn, dysphagia, diarrhea, constipation, dehydration and malnutrition. There is no cure for intestinal pseudo-obstruction. Different types of surgery and treatment managing life-threatening complications such as ileus and volvulus, intestinal stasis which lead to bacterial overgrowth, and resection of affected or dead parts of the gut may be needed. Many patients require parenteral nutrition. *
Ileus Ileus is a disruption of the normal propulsive ability of the intestine. It can be caused by lack of peristalsis or by mechanical obstruction. The word 'ileus' is from Ancient Greek ''eileós'' (, "intestinal obstruction"). The term 'subileus' ref ...
is a blockage of the intestines. *
Coeliac disease Coeliac disease (British English) or celiac disease (American English) is a long-term autoimmune disorder, primarily affecting the small intestine, where individuals develop intolerance to gluten, present in foods such as wheat, rye and barle ...
is a common form of
malabsorption Malabsorption is a state arising from abnormality in absorption of food nutrients across the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Impairment can be of single or multiple nutrients depending on the abnormality. This may lead to malnutrition and a variety ...
, affecting up to 1% of people of northern European descent. An autoimmune response is triggered in intestinal cells by digestion of gluten proteins. Ingestion of proteins found in wheat, barley and rye, causes villous atrophy in the small intestine. Lifelong dietary avoidance of these foodstuffs in a gluten-free diet is the only treatment. *
Enteroviruses ''Enterovirus'' is a genus of positive-sense single-stranded RNA viruses associated with several human and mammalian diseases. Enteroviruses are named by their transmission-route through the intestine ('enteric' meaning intestinal). Serologic ...
are named by their transmission-route through the intestine (''enteric'' meaning intestinal), but their symptoms aren't mainly associated with the intestine. *
Endometriosis Endometriosis is a disease of the female reproductive system in which cells similar to those in the endometrium, the layer of tissue that normally covers the inside of the uterus, grow outside the uterus. Most often this is on the ovaries, f ...
can affect the intestines, with similar symptoms to IBS. *
Bowel twist A volvulus is when a loop of intestine twists around itself and the mesentery that supports it, resulting in a bowel obstruction. Symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, abdominal bloating, vomiting, constipation, and bloody stool. Onset of sy ...
(or similarly, bowel strangulation) is a comparatively rare event (usually developing sometime after major bowel surgery). It is, however, hard to diagnose correctly, and if left uncorrected can lead to bowel
infarction Infarction is tissue death ( necrosis) due to inadequate blood supply to the affected area. It may be caused by artery blockages, rupture, mechanical compression, or vasoconstriction. The resulting lesion is referred to as an infarct (from th ...
and death. (The singer
Maurice Gibb Maurice Ernest Gibb (; 22 December 1949 – 12 January 2003) was a British musician. He achieved fame as a member of the pop group Bee Gees. Although his elder brother Barry Gibb and fraternal twin brother Robin Gibb were the group's main le ...
is understood to have died from this.) *
Angiodysplasia In medicine (gastroenterology), angiodysplasia is a small vascular malformation of the gut. It is a common cause of otherwise unexplained gastrointestinal bleeding and anemia. Lesions are often multiple, and frequently involve the cecum or asce ...
of the colon *
Constipation Constipation is a bowel dysfunction that makes bowel movements infrequent or hard to pass. The stool is often hard and dry. Other symptoms may include abdominal pain, bloating, and feeling as if one has not completely passed the bowel movement ...
*
Diarrhea Diarrhea, also spelled diarrhoea, is the condition of having at least three loose, liquid, or watery bowel movements each day. It often lasts for a few days and can result in dehydration due to fluid loss. Signs of dehydration often begin wi ...
*
Hirschsprung's disease Hirschsprung's disease (HD or HSCR) is a birth defect in which nerves are missing from parts of the intestine. The most prominent symptom is constipation. Other symptoms may include vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea and slow growth. Symptoms us ...
(aganglionosis) * Intussusception * Polyp (medicine) (see also
colorectal polyp A colorectal polyp is a polyp (fleshy growth) occurring on the lining of the colon or rectum. Untreated colorectal polyps can develop into colorectal cancer. Colorectal polyps are often classified by their behaviour (i.e. benign vs. malignant) o ...
) *
Pseudomembranous colitis Colitis is swelling or inflammation of the large intestine ( colon). Colitis may be acute and self-limited or long-term. It broadly fits into the category of digestive diseases. In a medical context, the label ''colitis'' (without qualificatio ...
*
Toxic megacolon Toxic megacolon is an acute form of colonic distension. It is characterized by a very dilated colon (megacolon), accompanied by abdominal distension (bloating), and sometimes fever, abdominal pain, or shock. Toxic megacolon is usually a complica ...
usually a complication of ulcerative colitis


Uses of animal guts

Intestines from animals other than humans are used in a number of ways. From each species of
livestock Livestock are the domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting to provide labor and produce diversified products for consumption such as meat, eggs, milk, fur, leather, and wool. The term is sometimes used to refer solely to animals ...
that is a source of
milk Milk is a white liquid food produced by the mammary glands of mammals. It is the primary source of nutrition for young mammals (including breastfed human infants) before they are able to digestion, digest solid food. Immune factors and immune ...
, a corresponding rennet is obtained from the intestines of milk-fed .
Pig The pig (''Sus domesticus''), often called swine, hog, or domestic pig when distinguishing from other members of the genus '' Sus'', is an omnivorous, domesticated, even-toed, hoofed mammal. It is variously considered a subspecies of ''Sus ...
and
calf Calf most often refers to: * Calf (animal), the young of domestic cattle. * Calf (leg), in humans (and other primates), the back portion of the lower leg Calf or calves may also refer to: Biology and animal byproducts * Veal, meat from calves * ...
intestines are eaten, and pig intestines are used as
sausage A sausage is a type of meat product usually made from ground meat—often pork, beef, or poultry—along with salt, spices and other flavourings. Other ingredients, such as grains or breadcrumbs may be included as fillers or extenders. ...
casings. Calf intestines supply calf-intestinal alkaline phosphatase (CIP), and are used to make
goldbeater's skin Goldbeater's skin is the processed outer membrane of the intestine of an animal, typically cattle, which is valued for its strength against tearing. The term derives from its traditional use as durable layers interleaved between sheets of gold st ...
. Other uses are: * The use of animal gut
strings String or strings may refer to: *String (structure), a long flexible structure made from threads twisted together, which is used to tie, bind, or hang other objects Arts, entertainment, and media Films * ''Strings'' (1991 film), a Canadian anim ...
by musicians can be traced back to the
third dynasty of Egypt The Third Dynasty of ancient Egypt (Dynasty III) is the first dynasty of the Old Kingdom. Other dynasties of the Old Kingdom include the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth. The capital during the period of the Old Kingdom was at Memphis. Overview Af ...
. In the recent past, strings were made out of
lamb Lamb or The Lamb may refer to: * A young sheep * Lamb and mutton, the meat of sheep Arts and media Film, television, and theatre * ''The Lamb'' (1915 film), a silent film starring Douglas Fairbanks Sr. in his screen debut * ''The Lamb'' (1918 ...
gut. With the advent of the modern era, musicians have tended to use strings made of
silk Silk is a natural protein fiber, some forms of which can be woven into textiles. The protein fiber of silk is composed mainly of fibroin and is produced by certain insect larvae to form cocoons. The best-known silk is obtained from the coc ...
, or synthetic materials such as
nylon Nylon is a generic designation for a family of synthetic polymers composed of polyamides ( repeating units linked by amide links).The polyamides may be aliphatic or semi-aromatic. Nylon is a silk-like thermoplastic, generally made from petro ...
or
steel Steel is an alloy made up of iron with added carbon to improve its strength and fracture resistance compared to other forms of iron. Many other elements may be present or added. Stainless steels that are corrosion- and oxidation-resistant ty ...
. Some instrumentalists, however, still use gut strings in order to evoke the older tone quality. Although such strings were commonly referred to as "
catgut Catgut (also known as gut) is a type of cord that is prepared from the natural fiber found in the walls of animal Gut (anatomy), intestines. Catgut makers usually use sheep or goat intestines, but occasionally use the intestines of cattle, Domest ...
" strings,
cat The cat (''Felis catus'') is a domestic species of small carnivorous mammal. It is the only domesticated species in the family Felidae and is commonly referred to as the domestic cat or house cat to distinguish it from the wild members of ...
s were never used as a source for gut strings. * Sheep gut was the original source for natural gut string used in
racquet A racket, or racquet, is a sports implement used for striking a ball or shuttlecock in games such as squash, tennis, racquetball, badminton and padel. In the strictest sense a racket consists of a handled frame with an open hoop across which a ...
s, such as for
tennis Tennis is a racket sport that is played either individually against a single opponent ( singles) or between two teams of two players each ( doubles). Each player uses a tennis racket that is strung with cord to strike a hollow rubber ball ...
. Today, synthetic strings are much more common, but the best gut strings are now made out of
cow Cattle (''Bos taurus'') are large, domesticated, cloven-hooved, herbivores. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae and the most widespread species of the genus ''Bos''. Adult females are referred to as cows and adult ma ...
gut. * Gut cord has also been used to produce strings for the snares that provide a
snare drum The snare (or side drum) is a percussion instrument that produces a sharp staccato sound when the head is struck with a drum stick, due to the use of a series of stiff wires held under tension against the lower skin. Snare drums are often used ...
's characteristic buzzing timbre. While the modern snare drum almost always uses metal wire rather than gut cord, the
North Africa North Africa, or Northern Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, and it is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of Mauritania in ...
n bendir frame drum still uses gut for this purpose. * "Natural"
sausage A sausage is a type of meat product usually made from ground meat—often pork, beef, or poultry—along with salt, spices and other flavourings. Other ingredients, such as grains or breadcrumbs may be included as fillers or extenders. ...
hulls, or casings, are made of animal gut, especially hog, beef, and lamb. * The wrapping of
kokoretsi Kokoretsi or kokoreç is a dish of the Balkans and Anatolia (Asia Minor), consisting of lamb or goat intestines wrapped around seasoned offal, including sweetbreads, hearts, lungs, or kidneys, and typically grilled; a variant consists of chopp ...
,
gardoubakia Kokoretsi or kokoreç is a dish of the Balkans and Anatolia (Asia Minor), consisting of lamb or goat intestines wrapped around seasoned offal, including sweetbreads, hearts, lungs, or kidneys, and typically grilled; a variant consists of choppe ...
, and
torcinello Torcinello (turcenélle in the Apulian and Molise dialects, mboti, turcinieddi, or turcinieddhri in the Salento dialect) is an Italian dish from Apulia and Molise consisting of lamb intestines wrapped around lamb liver or offal, typically testicle ...
is made of lamb (or goat) gut. *
Haggis Haggis ( gd, taigeis) is a savoury pudding containing sheep's pluck (heart, liver, and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and cooked while traditionally encased in the animal's stomach though n ...
is traditionally boiled in, and served in, a sheep stomach. * Chitterlings, a kind of food, consist of thoroughly washed
pig The pig (''Sus domesticus''), often called swine, hog, or domestic pig when distinguishing from other members of the genus '' Sus'', is an omnivorous, domesticated, even-toed, hoofed mammal. It is variously considered a subspecies of ''Sus ...
's gut. * Animal gut was used to make the cord lines in
longcase clock A grandfather clock (also a longcase clock, tall-case clock, grandfather's clock, or floor clock) is a tall, freestanding, weight-driven pendulum clock with the pendulum held inside the tower or waist of the case. Clocks of this style are common ...
s and for fusee movements in
bracket clock A bracket clock is a style of antique portable table clock made in the 17th and 18th centuries. The term originated with small weight-driven pendulum clocks (sometimes called 'true bracket clocks') that had to be mounted on a bracket on the wall ...
s, but may be replaced by metal wire. * The oldest known
condom A condom is a sheath-shaped barrier device used during sexual intercourse to reduce the probability of pregnancy or a sexually transmitted infection (STI). There are both male and female condoms. With proper use—and use at every act of in ...
s, from 1640 AD, were made from animal intestine.


Other animals

Many birds and other animals have a specialised stomach in the digestive tract called a
gizzard The gizzard, also referred to as the ventriculus, gastric mill, and gigerium, is an organ found in the digestive tract of some animals, including archosaurs (pterosaurs, crocodiles, alligators, dinosaurs, birds), earthworms, some gastropods, so ...
used for grinding up food. Another feature not found in the human but found in a range of other animals is the
crop A crop is a plant that can be grown and harvested extensively for profit or subsistence. When the plants of the same kind are cultivated at one place on a large scale, it is called a crop. Most crops are cultivated in agriculture or hydroponic ...
. In birds this is found as a pouch alongside the esophagus. Most vertebrates including
fish Fish are aquatic, craniate, gill-bearing animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish as well as various extinct related groups. Approximately 95% of li ...
es,
amphibian Amphibians are tetrapod, four-limbed and ectothermic vertebrates of the Class (biology), class Amphibia. All living amphibians belong to the group Lissamphibia. They inhabit a wide variety of habitats, with most species living within terres ...
s,
bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrates constituting the class Aves (), characterised by feathers, toothless beaked jaws, the laying of hard-shelled eggs, a high metabolic rate, a four-chambered heart, and a strong yet lightweigh ...
s,
reptile Reptiles, as most commonly defined are the animals in the class Reptilia ( ), a paraphyletic grouping comprising all sauropsids except birds. Living reptiles comprise turtles, crocodilians, squamates (lizards and snakes) and rhynchocephalians ( ...
s, and egg-laying mammals have a major difference in their GI tract in that it ends in a cloaca and not an anus, having merged the
urinary system The urinary system, also known as the urinary tract or renal system, consists of the kidneys, ureters, urinary bladder, bladder, and the urethra. The purpose of the urinary system is to eliminate waste from the body, regulate blood volume and bl ...
with the genito-anal pore.
Theria Theria (; Greek: , wild beast) is a subclass of mammals amongst the Theriiformes. Theria includes the eutherians (including the placental mammals) and the metatherians (including the marsupials) but excludes the egg-laying monotremes. Ch ...
ns (most/other mammals, including humans) separated their anus from their uro-genital opening for both sexes, with subgroup
placentalia Placental mammals (infraclass Placentalia ) are one of the three extant subdivisions of the class Mammalia, the other two being Monotremata and Marsupialia. Placentalia contains the vast majority of extant mammals, which are partly distinguished ...
ns later separating their urinary and genital openings by a little distance, this time only in females. In 2020, the oldest known fossil digestive tract, of an extinct wormlike organism in the
Cloudinidae The cloudinids, an early metazoan family containing the genera ''Acuticocloudina'', ''Cloudina'' and ''Conotubus'', lived in the late Ediacaran period about 550 million years ago. and became extinct at the base of the Cambrian. They formed mil ...
was discovered; it lived during the late
Ediacaran The Ediacaran Period ( ) is a geological period that spans 96 million years from the end of the Cryogenian Period 635 million years ago (Mya), to the beginning of the Cambrian Period 538.8 Mya. It marks the end of the Proterozoic Eon, and th ...
period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in musical composition * Periodic sentence (or rhetorical period), a concept ...
about 550 million years ago. A through-gut (one with both mouth and anus) is thought to have evolved within the
nephrozoa Nephrozoa is a major clade of bilaterians, divided into the protostomes and the deuterostomes, containing almost all animal phyla and over a million extant species. Its sister clade is the Xenacoelomorpha. The Ambulacraria (conventionally deut ...
n clade of Bilateria, after their ancestral ventral orifice (single, as in
cnidaria Cnidaria () is a phylum under kingdom Animalia containing over 11,000 species of aquatic animals found both in freshwater and marine environments, predominantly the latter. Their distinguishing feature is cnidocytes, specialized cells that ...
ns and
acoels Acoela, or the acoels, is an order of small and simple invertebrates in the subphylum Acoelomorpha of phylum Xenacoelomorpha, a deep branching bilaterian group of animals, which resemble flatworms. Historically they were treated as an order of ...
; re-evolved in nephrozoans like
flatworms The flatworms, flat worms, Platyhelminthes, or platyhelminths (from the Greek πλατύ, ''platy'', meaning "flat" and ἕλμινς (root: ἑλμινθ-), ''helminth-'', meaning "worm") are a phylum of relatively simple bilaterian, unsegment ...
) stretched antero-posteriorly, before the middle part of the stretch would get narrower and closed fully, leaving an anterior orifice (mouth) and a posterior orifice (anus plus genital opening). A stretched gut without the middle part closed is present in another branch of bilaterians, the extinct proarticulates. This and the amphistomic development (when both mouth and anus develop from the gut stretch in the embryo) present in some nephrozoans (e.g.
roundworms The nematodes ( or grc-gre, Νηματώδη; la, Nematoda) or roundworms constitute the phylum Nematoda (also called Nemathelminthes), with plant-parasitic nematodes also known as eelworms. They are a diverse animal phylum inhabiting a broa ...
) are considered to support this hypothesis.De Robertis, E. M., & Tejeda-Muñoz, N. (2022). Evo-Devo of urbilateria and its larval forms. ''Developmental Biology'', 487, 10–20. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ydbio.2022.04.003


See also

*
Gastrointestinal physiology Gastrointestinal physiology is the branch of human physiology that addresses the physical function of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The function of the GI tract is to process ingested food by mechanical and chemical means, extract nutrients and ...
* Gut-on-a-chip * *


References


External links


The gastro intestinal tract in the Human Protein Atlas

Your Digestive System and How It Works at National Institutes of Health
{{DEFAULTSORT:Gastrointestinal Abdomen Digestive system Endocrine system Routes of administration