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Regional reduction in intestinal neuroendocrine cell populations in enterocolitis complicating Hirschsprung's disease

Journal of Pediatric Surgery
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/0022-3468(93)90520-u
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Medicine


Abstract Enterocolitis (EC) remains the most serious complication of Hirschsprung's disease (HD). The aetiology of EC is uncertain. Ischemic and bacterial causes, and recently rotavirus infection, have been suggested to explain the occurrence of EC. The gut has an abundance of neuroendocrine (NE) cells which modulate gut function by endocrine, paracrine, or neurocrine routes. We studied NE cell populations in the bowel from 16 patients with HD (six of whom had clinical evidence of EC) and rectal tissue from 6 controls. Immunohistochemical studies were carried out using monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies against chromogranin A, synaptophysin (general markers of NE cells), 5-Hydroxytryptamine (5-HT), somatostatin, peptide YY (PYY), and glucagon/glicentin (neuropeptides). The six patients who had clinical evidence of EC prior to defunctioning colostomy showed histological evidence of EC in the defunctioned bowel. Using immunocytochemistry and serial tissue sectioning it was found that the number of NE cells in the aganglionic segment of colon in patients with HD was significantly ( P < .05) increased compared with the numbers in the aganglionic segment. However, in the ganglionic colon, there was a significant ( P < .05) reduction in NE cells in EC patients compared with non-EC patients. These results were seen both with the generic endocrine cell marker chromogranin A, which stains virtually all endocrine cells, and with specific markers for 5-HT, PYY, and glucagon/glicentin, which identify distinct subpopulations of endocrine cells. These differences may be partially responsible for previous conflicting reports of NE cell distribution in HD. The diminished mucosal NE cell distribution in the ganglionic colon in EC patients may represent either an impaired response to inflammation or a deficiency which may facilitate the initiation of inflammation.

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