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ABSTRACT: Hypertrophic nerves have long been considered a histopathologic feature of the aganglionic segment in Hirschsprung disease, but they remain incompletely explained. The purpose of this study was to define the nature and diagnostic importance of hypertrophic nerves in Hirschsprung disease and to clarify their relation to nearby smaller nerve fibers.
We used an immunoperoxidase staining technique to compare the distribution of 2 nerve markers-erythrocyte-type glucose transporter (GLUT-1), a marker of perineurium, and nerve growth factor receptor, a marker of both nerve fibers and perineurium-in aganglionic tissue (12 resected specimens and 4 rectal biopsies) and control tissue (6 autopsy specimens and 17 rectal biopsies) of children.
In control ganglionic tissue, the myenteric and submucosal areas contained only occasional GLUT-1-positive nerves (usually less than 50 microm in diameter), but extramural extrinsic (serosal) nerves were invariably positive for GLUT-1. In aganglionic tissue, GLUT-1-positive nerves in the myenteric and submucosal areas were frequent and included both large (50-150 microm) and small (<50 microm) diameter nerves. Nerve growth factor receptor-positive fibers were frequent in all layers of all tissue studied. In aganglionic bowel, a distinct perineurium could be identified in the largest nerves, but nerve growth factor receptor had poor discrimination for small perineurium-sheathed nerves.
Most nerves, of both large and small diameter, in the myenteric and submucosal plexus of aganglionic bowel are GLUT-1 positive. Serosal extrinsic nerves stain identically, supporting the interpretation that the mural nerves are of extrinsic origin. Mural GLUT-1-positive nerves, when they are multiple and especially when they are greater than 50 microm in diameter (a figure which may be used as a threshold for hypertrophic nerves), are suggestive of Hirschsprung disease.
Archives of pathology & laboratory medicine 10/2000; 124(9):1314-9. DOI:10.1043/0003-9985(2000)124<1314:SDOMNI>2.0.CO;2 · 2.84 Impact Factor