Background Depletion of interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC) is associated with several gastrointestinal (GI) motility disorders. Changes in ICC networks are usually detected by immunolabeling for the receptor tyrosine kinase Kit. Ano1 (DOG1 or TMEM16A) was recently described as a marker of ICC in GI tract. Our aim was to determine whether Ano1 immunoreactivity can be used as a reliable marker for ICC in tissues from patients with motility disorders.
Methods Four tissues from patients with normal ICC numbers and four tissues from patients with slow transit constipation and loss of Kit-positive ICC were studied. Interstitial cells of Cajal were detected by double labeling using antisera to Kit and Ano1.
Key Results Both the processes and cell bodies of ICC in tissue from controls and slow transit constipation were immunoreactive for Ano1. There was a near complete overlap between Kit and Ano1 immunoreactivity. Tissues from patients with slow transit constipation contained significantly fewer Ano1-positive ICC than control tissues. The numbers of ICC identified by Ano1 and Kit immunoreactivity were nearly identical across the range of ICC numbers from an average of 1.64 to 7.05 cells per field and correlated with an R2 value of 0.99.
Conclusions & Inferences Ano1 is a reliable and sensitive marker for detecting changes in ICC networks in humans. Labeling with antibodies selective for Ano1 reproducibly detects depletion of Kit-positive ICC in tissues from patients with slow transit constipation.