Congenital esophageal stenosis (CES) is a rare disorder with narrowed esophageal lumen that presents as dysphagia from childhood and that is often associated with tracheobronchial remnants or webs. The pathogenesis of CES is unknown. The aim of this study was to examine the histological and immunohistochemical features of CES. Esophagi from 2 young adults with CES and 3 controls with no motility disorders underwent routine H&E staining, trichrome staining for collagen, and detailed immunocytochemical studies for general neuronal markers (protein gene product 9.5, neuron-specific enolase, and S-100) and neurotransmitters (vasoactive intestinal polypeptide, substance P, and galanin) and nitric oxide synthase by β-nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH)-diaphorase and a specific NO synthase antibody. Quantitative experiments compared the numbers of myenteric neurons and amounts of fibers at the circular muscle. CES esophagi showed infiltration of neutrophils in the myenteric plane, without any increase in collagen. NADPH-diaphorase histochemistry showed a significant reduction of myenteric nitrinergic neurons (7 ± 3.4 vs. 2.7 ± 1.8 neurons per high-power field) and fibers at the circular muscle. Other peptidergic neurons studied were not significantly reduced in CES. The specific total lack of NO inhibitory innervation may be an important mechanism in the pathogenesis of stenosis and aperistalsis of the esophagus in this disorder.
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