Pathology of Interstitial Cells of Cajal in Relation to Inflammation Revealed by Ultrastructure But Not Immunohistochemistry
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The role of interstitial cells of Cajal associated with Auerbach's plexus (ICC-AP) in the pathophysiology of inflammation-induced abnormalities in gut motor activity is poorly understood. Therefore we applied a well-described model of inflammation (infection by Trichinella spiralis) to the mouse small intestine where the structure and function of ICC-AP are best known. Electron microscopic evaluation revealed that 1 to 3 days after infection, selective and patchy damage to the ICC processes occurred, thereby disrupting contacts between these ICC and smooth muscle cells as well as ICC and nerves, which was associated with disordered electrical activity and abnormal peristalsis. Ten to 15 days after infection, damage to ICC-AP was maximal and now involving the cell body and major processes. Marked synthetic activity and regrowth of their processes occurred from day 3 onward and recovery was completed at day 40 after infection. No changes to the network of ICC-AP were seen with c-Kit immunohistochemistry. From day 1 after infection, macrophages infiltrated the AP area, making close contact including peg-and-socket-like junctions with smooth muscle cells and ICC-AP but up to day 6 after infection without any sign of phagocytosis. By day 6 after infection, lymphocytes entered the musculature forming close contacts with ICC-AP. This was not associated with damage to ICC-AP but with proliferation of rough endoplasmic reticulum. From day 23 onward, immune cells withdrew from the musculature except macrophages, resulting in a markedly increased population of macrophages in the AP area at day 60 after infection.
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