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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Increased neuropeptide Y-immunoreactive innervation of aganglionic bowel in Hirschsprung's disease.

The pathophysiology of Hirschsprung's disease has not been fully elucidated but is known to have a neurogenic basis. In recent years, new neural proteins and peptides have been discovered and our aim in this study was to use immunocytochemistry to investigate their involvement in the neuronal abnormalities associated with this condition. Large bowel samples from 9 children undergoing surgery for Hirschsprung's disease were compared with those taken from 8 children with other gastrointestinal diseases but no aganglionosis. Immunocytochemistry was carried out using antibodies to a wide range of neuron specific proteins and peptides. Examination of sections immunostained for the general neuronal markers, protein gene product 9.5, neuron specific enolase and neurofilament triplet proteins, allowed rapid identification of aganglionic segments. Nerves containing vasoactive intestinal polypeptide/peptide histidine methionine (VIP/PHM), galanin, substance P, somatostatin, met-enkephalin or calcitonin gene-related peptide ( CGRP) showed a marked reduction in all layers of the aganglionic bowel. However, scattered VIP/PHM immunoreactive fibres were also found in the hypertrophied nerve bundles. In contrast with these reduced peptide-containing nerves, fibres displaying NPY immunoreactivity showed a marked increase in all aganglionic segments, particularly in the circular muscle where few are found normally. Our findings shed further light on the neurobiology of aganglionic bowel and suggest that immunostaining of neural proteins and the peptide NPY can aid rapid histopathological diagnosis of congenital aganglionosis.[1]


  1. Increased neuropeptide Y-immunoreactive innervation of aganglionic bowel in Hirschsprung's disease. Hamada, Y., Bishop, A.E., Federici, G., Rivosecchi, M., Talbot, I.C., Polak, J.M. Virchows Archiv. A, Pathological anatomy and histopathology. (1987) [Pubmed]
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