Intestinal ganglioneuromatosis (GN) is an uncommon disease of the enteric nervous system (ENS) and its pathogenesis remains unclear. Here we describe a unique case of diffuse GN of the intestinal wall associated with colon adenocarcinoma occurring in a 38-year-old female. Because it is well-known that glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) and its receptor components, GDNF family receptor-α 1 (GFR-α1) and RET receptor tyrosine kinase, play a crucial role in the development of ENS, their expression was analyzed by immunohistochemistry. Interestingly, GDNF as well as a related neurotrophic factor, neurturin (NTN), were expressed at high levels in adenocarcinoma cells whereas expression of GFRα 1 and RET was undetectable in them. In contrast, GFR-α1 showed positive staining in both proliferating ganglion cells and glial cells, and RET immunoreactivity was found mainly in ganglion cell bodies. These findings suggested that GDNF and NTN expression in adenocarcinoma cells may play an important role in the pathogenesis of GN.
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