Altered Expression Pattern of Molecular Factors Involved in Colonic Smooth Muscle Functions: An Immunohistochemical Study in Patients with Diverticular Disease

Mattii, Letizia; Ippolito, Chiara; Segnani, Cristina; Battolla, Barbara; Colucci, Rocchina; Dolfi, Amelio; Bassotti, Gabrio; Blandizzi, Corrado; Bernardini, Nunzia
February 2013
PLoS ONE;Feb2013, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
Background: The pathogenesis of diverticular disease (DD) is thought to result from complex interactions among dietary habits, genetic factors and coexistence of other bowel abnormalities. These conditions lead to alterations in colonic pressure and motility, facilitating the formation of diverticula. Although electrophysiological studies on smooth muscle cells (SMCs) have investigated colonic motor dysfunctions, scarce attention has been paid to their molecular abnormalities, and data on SMCs in DD are lacking. Accordingly, the main purpose of this study was to evaluate the expression patterns of molecular factors involved in the contractile functions of SMCs in the tunica muscularis of colonic specimens from patients with DD. Methods and Findings: By means of immunohistochemistry and image analysis, we examined the expression of Cx26 and Cx43, which are prominent components of gap junctions in human colonic SMCs, as well as pS368-Cx43, PKCps, RhoA and αSMA, all known to regulate the functions of gap junctions and the contractile activity of SMCs. The immunohistochemical analysis revealed significant abnormalities in DD samples, concerning both the expression and distribution patterns of most of the investigated molecular factors. Conclusion: This study demonstrates, for the first time, that an altered pattern of factors involved in SMC contractility is present at level of the tunica muscularis of DD patients. Moreover, considering that our analysis was conducted on colonic tissues not directly affected by diverticular lesions or inflammatory reactions, it is conceivable that these molecular alterations may precede and predispose to the formation of diverticula, rather than being mere consequences of the disease.


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