Slow transit chronic constipation (Arbuthnot Lane's disease). An immunohistochemical study of neuropeptide-containing nerves in resected specimens from the large bowel

Int J Colorectal Dis. 1990 Dec;5(4):181-7. doi: 10.1007/BF00303272.


Seven patients (6 women, 1 man) with severe idiopathic chronic constipation, who underwent surgery with subtotal colectomy and ileorectal anastomosis, were investigated for the occurrence and density of nerve fibres, immunoreactive to different neuropeptides in the mucosa, submucosa, ganglia and smooth muscle in fresh specimens from the colon ascendens, the colon transversum and the colon descendens-sigmoideum. The following substances were studied: enkephalin, substance P, somatostatin, neuropeptide Y, vasoactive intestinal polypeptide, calcitonin gene-related peptide, bombesin, motilin, tyrosine hydroxylase, dynorphin and galanin. Nerve fibres immunoreactive to CGRP occurred in large numbers in the myenteric ganglia of the patients with severe idiopathic chronic constipation, whereas in the myenteric ganglia of the control cases they only occurred in low numbers. In two patients there was no detectable motilin immunoreactivity and in one patient only sparse in the mucosa and the smooth muscle. The other neuropeptides investigated occurred in the density and distribution previously reported in the normal gut. With the present technique there were indications that patients with severe idiopathic chronic constipation have a significant difference in the occurrence of immunoreactive nerve fibres to CGRP and motilin compared to control patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anastomosis, Surgical
  • Chronic Disease
  • Colectomy
  • Colon / innervation*
  • Constipation / metabolism
  • Constipation / physiopathology*
  • Constipation / surgery
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Transit*
  • Humans
  • Ileum / surgery
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropeptides / metabolism*
  • Rectum / surgery


  • Neuropeptides