• nestin;
  • enteric glial cell;
  • rat;
  • enteric nervous system;
  • glial fibrillary acidic protein


The intermediate nestin filament is expressed in neural stem cells, neuroectodermal tumors and various adult tissues under situations that reproduce developmental phases, e.g., physiological renewal of certain cell types, tissue regeneration, and healing or revascularization. In the human gastrointestinal tract, nestin has been reported in glial cells and interstitial cells of Cajal. We examined by immunohistochemistry the appearance and distribution of nestin protein in enteric ganglia of rat duodenum. Through the myenteric and submucosal plexuses, a high number of nestin-positive cells were visualized in this specie. The nestin-positive cells were smaller and more numerous than enteric neurons. They were present both within and around ganglia. The results of this study suggest that the rat enteric glial cells (EGCs) are rich in nestin, a protein usually associated with dividing or migrating cells and the dynamic reorganization of nestin filaments during the cell cycle. EGCs could function as enteric stem cells. Microsc. Res. Tech. 74:148–152, 2011. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.