The significantly reduced number of interstitial cells of Cajal in chagasic megacolon (CM) patients might contribute to the pathophysiology of CM.
In addition to neurons, interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC) play an important role in coordinating intestinal motility with a pacemaker function. This study aimed to quantitatively analyze ICC, neurons, and muscular area, the latter to correct for quantitation errors resulting from dilation in case of a megacolon and from the dispersion of ICC that can be attributed to muscular hypertrophy. We analyzed 30 colon samples: ten chagasic megacolon (CM), ten chagasic colons without megacolon (CXM), and ten nonchagasic control patients (NC). We measured the area of muscularis propria and counted the number of neurons of the myenteric plexus in a histological section of an intestinal ring and the number of ICC at the level of the myenteric plexus and circular muscle layer, the latter in a section immunohistochemically stained for CD117. Muscular hypertrophy occurred only in the CM group. Compared to the NC group, we found in the CM group a statistically significant reduction of 80 % in the number of neurons, 60 % in the number of ICC in the myenteric plexus, and 38 % in the area of circular muscle. In the CXM group, these numbers were highly variable, and their reduction, less pronounced. We conclude that the number of ICC is significantly reduced in CM patients, and that this might contribute to the pathophysiology of CM. However, the development of CM requires severe denervation, whereas CXM generally exhibits less than 50 % denervation, favoring the hypothesis that the reduction in ICC number is, in part, a consequence of denervation.
Adad, SJ; Silva, GBE; Jammal, AA
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