Laser microdissection as a new tool to investigate site-specific gene expression in enteric ganglia of the human intestine

M. Böttner*, F. Bär, H. Von Koschitzky, K. Tafazzoli, U. J. Roblick, H. P. Bruch, T. Wedel

*Corresponding author for this work
20 Citations (Scopus)


Background Myenteric ganglia are key-structures for the control of intestinal motility and their mRNA expression profiles might be altered under pathological conditions. A drawback of conventional RT-PCR from full-thickness specimens is that gene expression analysis is based on heterogeneously composed tissues. To overcome this problem, laser microdissection combined with real-time RT-PCR can be used to detect and quantify low levels of gene expression in isolated enteric ganglia. Methods Fresh unfixed full-thickness specimens of sigmoid colon were obtained from patients (n = 8) with diseases unrelated to intestinal motility disorders. 10 μm cryo-sections were mounted on membrane-coated slides and ultra-rapidly stained with toluidine blue. Myenteric ganglia were isolated by laser microdissection and catapulting for mRNA isolation. Real-time RT-PCR was performed for selected growth factors, neurotransmitter receptors and specific cell type markers. Key Results Collection of 0.5 mm2 of ganglionic tissue was sufficient to obtain positive RT-PCR results. Collection of 4 mm2 resulted in ct-values allowing a reliable quantitative comparison of gene expression levels. mRNA analysis revealed that neurotrophic growth factor, neurotrophin-3, serotonin receptor 3A, PGP 9.5 and S100β are specifically expressed in myenteric ganglia of the human colon. Conclusions & Inferences Laser microdissection combined with real-time RT-PCR is a novel technique to reliably detect and quantify site-specific expression of low-abundance mRNAs (e.g. growth factors, neurotransmitter receptors) related to the human enteric nervous system. This technical approach expands the spectrum of available tools to characterize enteric neuropathologies underlying human gastrointestinal motility disorders at the molecular biological level.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNeurogastroenterology and Motility
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 01.02.2010


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