Volume 60, Issue 5
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645


The myenteric plexus of the proximal colon, midcolon, and distal colon was studied in mice chronically infected with the Y strain of Trypanosoma cruzi by means of histochemical methods for NADH-diaphorase and acetylcholinesterase (AChE) on whole mount preparations. Ganglia of infected mice displayed an irregular distribution, with neurons severely altered in form and were found side by side with slightly degenerated or morphologically normal ones. Significant reductions of at least 36% in the numbers of neurons were recorded in all regions of the colons of infected animals, especially in the distal colon where the neuron number decreased by more than 44%. Measurements of neuron size suggest that the neuronal destruction caused by T. cruzi affected the medium and large neurons. The small neurons apparently were not affected by the infection. The histochemical demonstration of AChE by the direct coloring copper ferrocyanide method showed that in the control animals, most of the neurons of the plexus displayed AChE activity in the cytoplasm although the neurons showed different reaction intensities. The AChE activity was also present, but at a lower intensity, in the myenteric plexus of the colons of infected animals. These results suggest that the T. cruzi infection affects some categories of neurons and implies that some particular enteric neurotransmitter systems could be affected and the potency of their action upon intestinal function consequently reduced.


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