Article révisé par les pairs
Résumé : BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVES: The interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC) act as pacemakers that generate slow waves and function as a relay between smooth muscle cells of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Recent reports indicate the crucial role played by the ICC in defining GI motility during human disease status like pyloric stenosis, Hirschsprung's disease and ulcerative colitis. Experimental data showed that Nippostrongylus infection in the rat caused an altered GI motility pattern accompanied by a complete loss of ICC-deep muscular plexus. The aim of the present study was to delineate if ICC were similarly affected during Schistosoma mansoni infections, thereby responsible for the disturbed GI motility patterns triggered in the afflicted mammalian host. METHODS & RESULTS: Immunohistochemistry was done using whole mounts and sections from naive and S. mansoni infected mice ileum. Primary antibodies detected Kit-immunoreactivity (Kit-ir representing ICC), PGP-9.5 (protein gene product 9.5 representing a neuronal marker), SK3 (ionic channel marker for non-Kit fibroblast like cells), and Cx43 (gap junction protein representing a muscle marker). Single/double immunofluorescence staining and confocal microscopy depicted that muscle thickness (Cx43-ir) and inflammatory infiltrate increased with infection. Kit-ir ICC and SK3-ir fibroblast like cells (FLC) were present at all normal locations as seen in controls and during acute and chronic stages of infection. INTERPRETATION & CONCLUSION: No disappearance of either ICC population was noted. A preferential (although not exclusive) location of inflammatory infiltrate in contact with SK3-ir FLC in the muscle layer was observed. The present study thus delineated that ICC are not affected during S. mansoni infections, and thereby may not be responsible for mediating the disturbed GI motility patterns caused by schistosomiasis.