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Interstitial cells of Cajal in the guinea-pig gastrointestinal tract as revealed by c-Kit immunohistochemistry


Interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC) of various morphologies have been described in the gastrointestinal (GI) tracts of mammals. Different classes of ICC are likely to have different functional roles. ICC of the mouse GI tract have been shown to express c-kit, a proto-oncogene that codes for a receptor tyrosine kinase. We have studied the distribution of ICC within the guinea pig GI tract using antibodies to c-Kit protein and immunohistochemical techniques. c-Kit-like immunoreactivity revealed at least 6 types of ICC: (1) intramuscular ICC (IC-IM1) that lie within the muscle layers of the esophagus, stomach, and cecum, (2) ICC within the myenteric plexus region (IC-MY1) in the corpus, antrum, small intestine, and colon,(3) ICC that populate the deep muscular plexus of the small intestine (IC-DMP), (4) ICC at the submucosal surface of the circular muscle layer in the colon (IC-SM), (5) stellate ICC that are closely associated with the myenteric plexus (IC-MY2) and orientated toward the longitudinal muscle layer in the colon, and (6) branching intramuscular ICC (IC-IM2) in the proximal colon within the circular and longitudinal muscle layers. c-Kit immunohistochemistry appears to be an excellent and selective technique for labeling ICC of the guinea-pig GI tract. Labeling of these cells at the light-microscopic level provides an opportunity for characterizing the distribution, density, organization, and relationship between ICC and other cell types.

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Received: 11 October 1996 / Accepted: 25 February 1997

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Burns, A., Herbert, T., Ward, S. et al. Interstitial cells of Cajal in the guinea-pig gastrointestinal tract as revealed by c-Kit immunohistochemistry. Cell Tissue Res 290, 11–20 (1997).

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  • Key words: Interstitial cells of Cajal
  • Gastrointestinal motility
  • Enteric nervous system
  • Smooth muscle
  • Rhythmicity
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Proto-oncogene
  • Tyrosine kinase
  • Guinea pig