Somatostatin, substance P and calcitonin gene-related peptide-positive intramural nerve structures of the human large intestine affected by carcinoma

Folia Histochem Cytobiol. 2010 Sep 30;48(3):475-83. doi: 10.2478/v10042-010-0079-y.


The aim of this study was to investigate the arrangement and chemical coding of enteric nerve structures in the human large intestine affected by cancer. Tissue samples comprising all layers of the intestinal wall were collected during surgery form both morphologically unchanged and pathologically altered segments of the intestine (n=15), and fixed by immersion in buffered paraformaldehyde solution. The cryostat sections were processed for double-labelling immunofluorescence to study the distribution of the intramural nerve structures (visualized with antibodies against protein gene-product 9.5) and their chemical coding using antibodies against somatostatin (SOM), substance P (SP) and calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP). The microscopic observations revealed distinct morphological differences in the enteric nerve system structure between the region adjacent to the cancer invaded area and the intact part of the intestine. In general, infiltration of the cancer tissue resulted in the gradual (depending on the grade of invasion) first decomposition and reduction to final partial or complete destruction and absence of the neuronal elements. A comparative analysis of immunohistochemically labeled sections (from the unchanged and pathologically altered areas) revealed a statistically significant decrease in the number of CGRP-positive neurons and nerve fibres in both submucous and myenteric plexuses in the transitional zone between morphologically unchanged and cancer-invaded areas. In this zone, a decrease was also observed in the density of SP-positive nerve fibres in all intramural plexuses. Conversely, the investigations demonstrated statistically insignificant differences in number of SP- and SOM-positive neurons and a similar density of SOM-positive nerve fibres in the plexuses of the intact and pathologically changed areas. The differentiation between the potential adaptive changes in ENS or destruction of its elements by cancer invasion should be a subject of further investigations.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide / analysis
  • Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide / metabolism*
  • Enteric Nervous System / chemistry
  • Enteric Nervous System / metabolism
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Intestine, Large / chemistry
  • Intestine, Large / innervation
  • Intestine, Large / metabolism*
  • Intestine, Small / chemistry
  • Intestine, Small / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myenteric Plexus / chemistry
  • Myenteric Plexus / metabolism
  • Nerve Fibers / chemistry
  • Nerve Fibers / metabolism
  • Nerve Fibers / physiology
  • Nerve Tissue / chemistry
  • Nerve Tissue / metabolism*
  • Neurons / chemistry
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Somatostatin / metabolism*
  • Substance P / metabolism*


  • Substance P
  • Somatostatin
  • Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide