Alterations of the enteric smooth musculature in diverticular disease


The pathogenesis of diverticular disease (DD) is considered to be multifactorial and involves intestinal motor disturbances and an underlying enteric neuromuscular pathology. While an enteric neuropathy has been well documented, actual studies on concomitant alterations of the enteric musculature are limited. This study is aimed at reassessing the smooth muscle tissue by histological, ultrastructural and molecular-biological approaches. Full-thickness sigmoid specimens were obtained from patients with DD (n = 20) and controls (n = 19). Morphometric analysis was performed to evaluate the thickness and connective tissue index of the circular and longitudinal muscle layers as well as the myenteric plexus. Structural alterations were determined by light and transmission electron microscopy. mRNA profiles of components of the contractile smooth muscle apparatus including smooth muscle α-actin, smoothelin, histone deacetylase 8, and smooth muscle myosin heavy chain (SMMHC) were assessed by qPCR. Altered gene expression levels were confirmed at protein level by immunohistochemistry. Compared to controls, patients with DD showed (1) increased thickness of the circular and longitudinal muscle layers, (2) architectural alterations of smooth muscle cells, (3) increased connective tissue index of the longitudinal muscle layer, (4) focally reduced density of myofilaments at ultrastructural level, (5) specific down-regulation of SMMHC mRNA levels, (6) decreased immunoreactivity of SMMHC, (7) oligo-neuronal hypoganglionosis. DD is associated with distinct structural and functional alterations of the enteric musculature. The enteric myopathy is characterized by disturbed muscular architecture, connective tissue replacement and loss of specific myofilaments and thus may contribute to the pathogenesis and progression of DD.

DOI: 10.1007/s00535-013-0886-y

Cite this paper

@article{Hellwig2013AlterationsOT, title={Alterations of the enteric smooth musculature in diverticular disease}, author={Ines Hellwig and Martina Boettner and Martina Barrenschee and Jonas Harde and J. Egberts and Thomas Becker and Thilo Wedel}, journal={Journal of Gastroenterology}, year={2013}, volume={49}, pages={1241-1252} }