Rho-kinase expression in Hirschsprung’s disease
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Rho-kinase (ROCK) is the primary effector protein in the RhoA pathway, which regulates Ca2+-independent smooth muscle contraction in the human bowel. This pathway has been reported to be hyper-activated in the aganglionic bowel of EDNRB-null (−/−) rats compared to the ganglionic bowel from EDNRB (+/+) rats. We hypothesised that ROCK expression is up-regulated in human aganglionic bowel and designed this study to investigate ROCK 1 and ROCK 2 expression in Hirschsprung’s disease (HSCR) and controls.
Materials and methods
Full-length specimens were collected following pull-through surgery for HSCR (n = 9). Colonic controls (n = 6) were obtained during colostomy closure from patients with anorectal malformations. Distribution of ROCK 1/2 expression was evaluated using double-labelled immunofluorescence and confocal microscopy. ROCK1/2 protein expression was assessed in mucosa and tunica muscularis using western blot analysis.
There was strong expression of both ROCK 1 and ROCK 2 in interstitial cells of Cajal (ICCs) and ganglia. ROCK 1 expression was reduced in aganglionic bowel compared to HSCR ganglionic bowel and controls in both mucosa and tunica muscularis. ROCK 2 expression was similar in the colon of children with HSCR and controls.
This is the first report of strong ROCK expression in colonic ICCs. Although the rat model of aganglionic bowel suggests that Ca2+-independent smooth muscle contraction involving ROCK is hyper-activated, our data indicate ROCK 1 expression is decreased in aganglionic bowel and ROCK 2 expression is unaltered in children with HSCR.
KeywordsRho-kinase Hirschsprung Aganglionosis Colonic motility Smooth muscle
We wish to acknowledge the assistance and guidance of Dr. Luiz Alvarez and the Departments of Histopathology in Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin and Children’s University Hospital, Temple St, Dublin.
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