Intestinal Disorders, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Immunology, And Microbiology

Digestive Diseases and Sciences

, Volume 40, Issue 11, pp 2450-2455

First online:

Nitric oxide synthase and VIP distribution in enteric nervous system in idiopathic chronic constipation

  • Camillo CortesiniAffiliated withFrom the Clinica Chirurgíca Generale, Università di FirenzeIstituto di Clinica Chirurgica II, Università di Padova
  • , Fabio CianchiAffiliated withFrom the Clinica Chirurgíca Generale, Università di Firenze
  • , Aldo InfantinoAffiliated withFrom the Clinica Chirurgíca Generale, Università di Firenze
  • , Mario LiseAffiliated withFrom the Clinica Chirurgíca Generale, Università di Firenze

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Idiopathic chronic constipation has been correlated to neural abnormalities that consist of a reduced number of myenteric plexus neurons and a decreased concentration of VIP-positive nerve fibers within the circular muscle. Recent studies hypothesized the involvement of nitric oxide in motility disorders of the human gut. To date, no information is available on nitric oxide involvement in idiopathic chronic constipation. The density of VIP- and nitric oxide-producing neurons was evaluated by immunocytochemistry using anti-VIP and anti-nitric oxide synthase antibodies in five patients with idiopathic chronic constipation. A low total neuron density was found at the myenteric plexus. The density of VIP-positive neurons was low while that of nitric oxide synthase-positive neurons was high at both plexuses. Our data confirm that idiopathic slow-transit chronic constipation is due to abnormal neurogenic factors. The presence of numerous nitric oxide synthase-positive neurons, all along the colon and at both plexuses, supports the hypothesis that an excessive production of nitric oxide may cause the persistent inhibition of contractions.

Key words

constipation myenteric plexus submucous plexus VIP nitric oxide histochemistry