Rectal mucosal adrenergic innervation and enterochromaffin cells in ulcerative colitis and irritable colon

Scand J Gastroenterol. 1977;12(3):363-7. doi: 10.3109/00365527709180942.


Rectal mucosal biopsies of 13 patients suffering from ulcerative colitis, 7 patients presenting symptomatology typical of irritable colon, and 7 control persons were studied by the recently introduced glyoxylic-acid-induced fluorescence histochemical method. In ulcerative colitis, compared to control specimens: 1) the density of the adrenergic nerve network was significantly pronounced; 2) the mean diameter of the varicosities and the proportional share of large varicosities were increased, as well as the number of varicosities per a given length of an axon; 3) the intensity of the fluorescence of varicosities of comparable size was significantly increased; 4) the number of enterochromaffin cells was significantly decreased. In irritable colon, compared to control specimens, the number of enterochromaffin cells was significantly increased. These findings suggest that biogenic amines are somehow involved in both ulcerative colitis and irritable colon. The fluorescence histochemical method used was found sensitive, specific, and suitable for comparative studies on human clinical material.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Count
  • Chromaffin System*
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / pathology*
  • Colonic Diseases / pathology*
  • Enterochromaffin Cells*
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / innervation*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Rectum / innervation*
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / pathology*