Morphological changes in the small intestinal smooth muscle layers of horses suffering from small intestinal strangulation : is there a basis for predisposition for reduced contractility?
Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences. Veterinary Sciences
Equine veterinary journal. - London
, p. 439-445
University of Antwerp
Reasons for performing study: Intestinal strangulation often leads to enterectomy after which ileus can develop. This has prompted research to look into possible pathophysiological processes triggering equine ileus. However, morphological changes of the small intestinal smooth muscle in relation to equine colic have not yet been studied. Objectives: The presence of some smooth muscle proteins was morphologically assessed and quantified in control and colic horses. In addition, the up- or down-regulation of heat shock proteins (HSP20 and HSP27) influencing the contractility of smooth muscles was studied. Methods: Cranial resection margins of 18 strangulated small intestinal samples were collected. Small intestinal control samples were collected from 11 horses subjected to euthanasia for other than gastrointestinal-related reasons. Formaldehyde-fixed tissue was paraffin-embedded and processed for conventional staining and immunohistochemistry. Snap-frozen full-thickness biopsies were collected for western blot analyses. Results: Evaluating the muscle layer microscopically, colic samples showed significantly more signs of degradation than controls (P = 0.026) of which vacuolar degeneration was most prominent (P = 0.009). In colic samples, myosin protein levels were decreased (P = 0.022) whereas desmin (P = 0.049) and HSP20 protein levels (P = 0.005) were elevated. Conclusions: In colic samples, microscopic lesions at the level of the muscle layer indicate a stress response. In addition, modified amounts of structural proteins such as myosin and desmin together with increased HSP20 levels could perhaps provide a basis for explaining the malfunctioning of the intestinal muscle layer. Potential relevance: Post operative ileus, following small intestinal strangulation and resection, could be related in part to a dysfunctional muscle layer. In addition to microscopic signs of degeneration, myosin and HSP20 were affected. Pharmacological interventions might alter HSP20 expressions and thus serve a protective effect.