The expression of nerve growth factor receptor in colon from 20 patients with Hirshsprung's disease and 10 controls was studied immunohistochemically. The myenteric and submucous plexuses in the ganglionic bowel and hypertrophic nerve trunks in the aganglionic bowel displayed strong expression of nerve growth factor receptor. The most important finding was the identical localisation of nerve growth factor receptor immunoreactivity on the perineurium of both hypertrophic nerve trunks in Hirshsprung's diseases, and of normal extrinsic nerves, seen as a thick ring surrounding the nerve trunks. This suggests that the hypertrophic nerve trunks are of extrinsic origin and that nerve growth factor receptor plays a role in their development and maintenance.
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