A systematic analysis of polyglucosan bodies in the human gastrointestinal tract in health and disease

Acta Neuropathol. 2003 Apr;105(4):410-3. doi: 10.1007/s00401-002-0662-1. Epub 2003 Jan 18.


Polyglucosan inclusion bodies have been described in smooth muscle of the gastrointestinal tract of aged dogs, and rarely in association with enteric dysmotility in humans. We have systematically examined the human small and large bowel for the presence of such inclusions in health and motility disorders. Systematic, blinded, dual observer analysis of colonic and ileal tissue from patients (n=80, age 20-92 years) undergoing large bowel resections for non-dysmotile conditions, principally neoplasia was performed, as well as retrospective review of all intestinal tissues referred for specialist histochemistry from patients undergoing surgery for motility disorders. All sections were stained with haematoxylin and eosin and periodic acid-Schiff stains. No polyglucosan bodies were identified in any specimen without dysmotility, regardless of age, but were a feature of 4/104 patients with diverse severe gastrointestinal motility disorders. In contrast to dogs, polyglucosan bodies are not a feature of normal ageing in human gastrointestinal smooth muscle but, in accord with previous suggestions, are seen in rare cases of human gut dysmotility. The significance of this difference is unclear.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging*
  • Digestive System Diseases / metabolism
  • Digestive System Diseases / pathology
  • Female
  • Glucans / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Inclusion Bodies / metabolism*
  • Intestine, Large / pathology
  • Intestine, Small / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Smooth / pathology*
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Glucans
  • polyglucosan