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Dig Dis Sci. 2001 May;46(5):968-75.

Matrix composition in opossum esophagus.

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  • 1Gastroenterological and Orthopedic Research Veterans Administration Medical Center, Iowa City, Iowa, USA.


The esophagus of mammalian species is organized into mucosa, connective tissue, and muscle, but little is known about the matrix of these layers. We studied by immunohistochemistry the distribution of collagens, fibronectin, versican, and elastin in the smooth muscle segment of the American opossum. Cryosections were exposed to specific antibodies and fluorescent-stained using conjugates of rhodamine or isothiocyanate. Staining was scored by two observers. We found that collagen I was prominent in the submucosa and in the muscular septa; collagen III formed fibrillar meshes in the lamina propria and the submucosa but was virtually absent from the epithelial and muscular layers; collagen IV was restricted to the base of the epithelium; collagen V, in contrast to collagen III, was prominent in epithelium and muscularis mucosae and sparse in muscular septa and submucosa. Fibronectin distribution followed collagen III; it formed layers in lamina propria and submucosa and strands in muscle septa and between individual muscle cells. Versican distribution followed collagen V; it was prominent in large muscle septa and formed thick sheets at the boundaries of submucosa/circular muscle and of circular/longitudinal muscle. We also determined the tissue contents of protein, hexuronic acid, and fibronectin. The mucosal layers exceeded the muscular layers in their content of hexuronic acid and fibronectin but not protein. We conclude that individual layers of the smooth muscle esophagus each have their own characteristic matrix. Lamina propria and submucosa are similar with regard to fiber orientation but lamina propria contains relatively more collagen III (small fibril) and submucosa comparatively more collagen I (large fibril). Nonfibrillar collagen V and versican are particularly prominent specifically on the boundaries between contracting muscle tissue and connective tissue framework.

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