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Decreased tyrosine kinase C expression may reflect developmental abnormalities in Hirschsprung's disease and idiopathic slow-transit constipation

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Some patients with Hirschsprung's disease have refractory constipation following excision of aganglionic bowel, as do patients with idiopathic slow-transit constipation (STC). Gut motility depends on enteric neuronal development in response to expression of trophic factors and their receptors. Recent studies indicate the importance of neurotrophin 3 (NT-3) and its high-affinity receptor tyrosine kinase C (trk C) in enteric neuronal development.Methods

Blinded quantitative immunohistochemical analysis of colon from patients with Hirschsprung's disease (aganglionic, hypoganglionic and normoganglionic) (n = 5), STC (n = 6) and appropriate age-matched control tissues (n = 5) was performed for NT-3 and trk C. Sural nerve morphometry and immunostaining were undertaken in three patients with STC who had abnormalities on limb autonomic and sensory testing.Results

A significantly higher proportion of submucous plexus neurones was trk C immunoreactive in control infant than adult colon (mean(s.e.m.) 73(9) versus 16(3) per cent of the total; P < 0·001), in accord with a role in development. The proportion of submucous plexus trk C-immunoreactive neurones was reduced in colon from patients with Hirschsprung's disease (28(7) per cent of total in normoganglionic Hirschsprung's disease; P < 0·007 versus infant controls) and STC (10(1) per cent of total; P = 0·053 versus adult controls). No abnormalities of STC sural nerves were detected by morphometry or immunostaining.Conclusion

Decreased trk C expression may reflect developmental abnormalities in Hirschsprung's disease and idiopathic STC. Trk C activation by NT-3 or drugs may provide novel treatments.

Presented in abstract form to the Pacific Association of Pediatric Surgeons, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, May 2000
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2001

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