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PLoS One. 2016 Mar 4;11(3):e0150579. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0150579. eCollection 2016.

Fluorescence Visualization of the Enteric Nervous Network in a Chemically Induced Aganglionosis Model.

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Department of Pediatric Surgery, Keio University School of Medicine, Shinjuku Tokyo, Japan.
Department of Physiology, Keio University School of Medicine, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan.
Department of Pediatric Surgery, International University of Health and Welfare, Ohtawara, Tochigi, Japan.


Gastrointestinal motility disorders, severe variants in particular, remain a therapeutic challenge in pediatric surgery. Absence of enteric ganglion cells that originate from neural crest cells is a major cause of dysmotility. However, the limitations of currently available animal models of dysmotility continue to impede the development of new therapeutics. Indeed, the short lifespan and/or poor penetrance of existing genetic models of dysmotility prohibit the functional evaluation of promising approaches, such as stem cell replacement strategy. Here, we induced an aganglionosis model using topical benzalkonium chloride in a P0-Cre/GFP transgenic mouse in which the neural crest lineage is labeled by green fluorescence. Pathological abnormalities and functional changes in the gastrointestinal tract were evaluated 2-8 weeks after chemical injury. Laparotomy combined with fluorescence microscopy allowed direct visualization of the enteric neural network in vivo. Immunohistochemical evaluation further confirmed the irreversible disappearance of ganglion cells, glial cells, and interstitial cell of Cajal. Remaining stool weight and bead expulsion time in particular supported the pathophysiological relevance of this chemically-induced model of aganglionosis. Interestingly, we show that chemical ablation of enteric ganglion cells is associated with a long lifespan. By combining genetic labeling of neural crest derivatives and chemical ablation of enteric ganglion cells, we developed a newly customized model of aganglionosis. Our results indicate that this aganglionosis model exhibits decreased gastrointestinal motility and shows sufficient survival for functional evaluation. This model may prove useful for the development of future therapies against motility disorders.

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