, Volume 344, Issue 2, pp 217-225

Evidence for neural progenitor cells in the human adult enteric nervous system

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Abstract

Putative neural stem cells have been identified within the enteric nervous system (ENS) of adult rodents and cultured from human myenteric plexus. We conducted studies to identify neural stem cells or progenitor cells within the submucosa of adult human ENS. Jejunum tissue was removed from adult human subjects undergoing gastric bypass surgery. The tissue was immunostained, and confocal images of ganglia in the submucosal plexus were collected to identify protein gene product 9.5 (PGP 9.5) - immunoractive neurons and neuronal progenitor cells that coexpress PGP 9.5 and nestin. In addition to PGP-9.5-positive/nestin-negative neuronal cells within ganglia, we observed two other types of cells: (1) cells in which PGP 9.5 and nestin were co-localized, (2) cells negative for both PGP 9.5 and nestin. These observations suggest that the latter two types of cells are related to a progenitor cell population and are consistent with the concept that the submucosa of human adult ENS contains stem cells capable of maintenance and repair within the peripheral nervous system.

The authors thank the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation for supporting research on the enteric nervous system.