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Cell Tissue Res. 2002 Aug;309(2):261-8. Epub 2002 Jun 21.

Distribution of the intermediate filament nestin in the muscularis propria of the human gastrointestinal tract.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Neurophysiologie, Faculté de Médecine, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Campus Erasme, CP 601, 808 route de Lennik, 1070 Brussels, Belgium.


The intermediate filament nestin is expressed in neural stem cells, neuroectodermal tumors and various adult tissues. In the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, nestin has been reported in glial cells. Recently, nestin has been reported in interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC) and in gastrointestinal stromal tumors, thought to derive from ICC. Here we investigated nestin immunoreactivity (-ir) in the normal human GI tract, with emphasis on Kit-ir ICC. Two different antibodies specific for human nestin and multicolor high-resolution confocal microscopy were used on material from our human GI tissue collection. The staining pattern of both nestin antibodies was similar. In labeled cells, nestin-ir appeared filamentous. Most intramuscular ICC in antrum and all myenteric ICC (ICC-MP) in small intestine were nestin-ir, while nestin-ir was not detected in deep muscular plexus ICC. In the colon, some - but not all - ICC-MP and most ICC in the circular musculature were nestin-ir while nestin-ir was not detected in ICC in the longitudinal musculature and in the submuscular plexus. In addition, many Kit-negative cells were nestin-ir in all regions. Neurons and smooth muscle cells were consistently nestin negative, while most S100-ir glial cells were nestin-ir. In addition, nestin-ir was also present in some CD34-ir fibroblast-like cells, in endothelium and in other cell types in the mucosa and serosa. In conclusion, nestin-ir is abundantly present in the normal human GI tract. Among a number of cell types, several, but not all, subpopulations of Kit-ir ICC were nestin-ir. The functional significance of nestin in the GI tract remains obscure.

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