Modification of the enteric nervous system in diabetic dogs: An immunohistochemical study

      Background: Diabetes mellitus (DM) in humans and mammals is known to determine a wide array of severe clinical complications, e.g. retinopathy, vascular damage, as well as autonomic neuropathy which affects gastrointestinal (GI) motility. So far no information is available on the effects associated with DM on the enteric nervous system (ENS) in the dog. Aim The aim of the present research was to investigate the effect of spontaneous DM on the dog ENS. Methods: Specimens of stomach and ileum from six non-diabetic dogs (control group) and five insulin dependent DM dogs were collected. Myenteric neurons were immunohistochemically identified with the anti-HuC/D antibody; nitrergic neurons were characterized with the antibody anti-neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS). The percentages of nitrergic neurons were calculated (median; interquartile range) in control dogs and compared with those obtained in DM-affected dogs. Results: The results showed different patterns of immunolabeling. In the stomach of control and DM-affected subjects, the percentages of nitrergic neurons were 27.06% (23.59 - 32.51%) and 25.28% (23.06 – 26.64%) respectively; in the ileum of diabetic dogs many ganglia were dramatically altered and the percentage of nNOS-IR neurons was significantly reduced (21.01%; 14.06 – 23.81%) compared to that of control dogs (28.25%; 27.49 - 34.94%). Conclusions: These findings indicate that DM altered more the enteric rather than the gastric part of the dog GI tract suggesting a propension to degeneration. In this part of the gut, the identification of marked nitrergic neuron reduction lends support to profound consequences on enteric motility patterns.
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