Abnormalities of enteric neurons, intestinal pacemaker cells, and smooth muscle in human intestinal atresia

Kouji Masumoto, Sachiyo Suita, Osami Nada, Tomoaki Taguchi, Rishu Guo

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60 Citations (Scopus)


Background/Purpose: Intestinal dysmotility, which usually has been encountered in the severely dilated proximal segment, is an important problem in postoperative management of patients with intestinal atresia (IA). Changes of enteric nerves had been histochemically examined in both the proximal and distal segments of IA, but a systemic immunohistochemical analysis is still lacking. The aim of this study was to examine precisely alterations of neuronal and muscular elements and pacemaker cells in intestines from patients with IA. Methods: Resected intestines were obtained from 5 patients with ileal atresia, 3 patients with jejunal atresia, and 3 controls without gastrointestinal diseases (congenital diaphragmatic hernia). All specimens were immunochemically stained with a monoclonal antibody to α-smooth muscle actin (SMA) as a smooth muscle marker, polyclonal antibodies to protein gene product (PGP) 9.5 as a general neuronal marker, and to c-kit protein as a maker of intestinal pacemaker cells. In addition, all specimens also were stained by NADPH-diaphorase (NADPH-d) to know the distribution of inhibitory nitrergic nerves. Results:A hypoplasia of the myenteric ganglia and a marked reduction of intramuscular nerve fibers, including nitrergic neurons, were observed in the dilated proximal segment of IA. C-kit-positive cells were localized around the myenteric plexus, but rarely found within the muscularis propria in the proximal segment. The distribution of nerves and c-kit- positive cells in the distal segment was comparable with that seen in controls. A reduced staining intensity for α-SMA was mainly observed in the hypertrophic circular muscle layer of the proximal segment. Conclusions: A hypoplasia of intramural nerves and pacemaker cells was seen predominantly in the proximal segments of IA. Hypertrophy and reduced immunoreactivity for α- SMA also were observed in the circular muscle layer of the proximal segment. These alterations of the proximal segment may thus contribute to the postoperative intestinal dysmotility in IA cases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1463-1468
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Pediatric Surgery
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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