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Open Access Familial Megacecum and Colon in the Rat: A New Model of Gastrointestinal Neuromuscular Dysfunction

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Gastrointestinal motility disorders are of considerable clinical importance in humans and animals. Abnormalities of smooth muscle and the enteric nervous system have been described. We have identified and characterized a new mutant stock of rats that develops severe megacecum and colon with pseudo-obstruction, Familial Megacecum and Colon (FMC). The inheritance pattern of FMC was characterized by selective breeding. Gastrointestinal motility was evaluated radiographically. Complete pathologic evaluations, including ultrastructural examination and staining of colonic segments for acetylcholinesterase, peripherin, vasoactive intestinal peptide, substance P, nitric oxide synthase, and somatostatin, were performed. Spontaneous contractility and contractile force in isolated colonic muscle strips were examined. Familial megacecum and colon is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait. The markedly dilated cecum and proximal portion of the colon are followed by a short, funnel-shaped segment and distal portion of the colon with normal or slightly reduced lumen. Although clinical features and gross anatomic changes of the colon resemble those of Hirschsprung's disease in humans and animals, aganglionosis is not a feature of FMC. An increase in somatostatin staining was observed in dilated regions of bowel. The spontaneous contractile frequency and contractile force were diminished in the affected colon. Familial megacecum and colon is a new mutant, distinct from previously described hereditary and targeted mutant rodent models that develop megacecum and colon as a result of distal colonic dysfunction. The functional or morphologic defect(s) that result in colonic dysfunction in rats with FMC was not determined. The disease may result from an absence or overexpression of a single or group of neurotransmitters or their respective neurons, receptor abnormalities, or defects in the intestinal pacemaker system.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Committee on Comparative Medicine and Pathology, Department of Pathology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 2: Committee on Comparative Medicine and Pathology, Department of Surgery, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 3: Departments of Anesthesia and Critical Care, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 4: Division of Biological Sciences, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois; and Department of Pathology, St. Christopher's Hospital for Children, Allegheny University of the Health Sciences, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 5: Committee on Comparative Medicine and Pathology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

Publication date: June 1, 1998

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  • Comparative Medicine (CM), an international journal of comparative and experimental medicine, is the leading English-language publication in the field and is ranked by the Science Citation Index in the upper third of all scientific journals. The mission of CM is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information that expands biomedical knowledge and promotes human and animal health through the study of laboratory animal disease, animal models of disease, and basic biologic mechanisms related to disease in people and animals.

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