The distribution of PKC isoforms in enteric neurons, muscle and interstitial cells of the human intestine

John B. Furness, Anderson J. Hind, Katrina Ngui, Heather L. Robbins, Nadine Clerc, Thierry Merrot, Joseph J. Tjandra, Daniel P. Poole

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In many organs, different protein kinase C (PKC) isoforms are expressed in specific cell types, suggesting that the different PKCs have cell-specific roles, and also that drugs acting on a particular PKC may have effects on the whole organ that are distinguishable from drugs that target other isoforms. Previous studies of the guinea-pig and mouse intestine indicate that there are cell-specific expressions of PKC isoforms in neurons, muscle and the interstitial cells of Cajal. In the present study we have investigated the expression of different PKCs in human intestine. Immunohistochemical studies showed that the forms that are prominent in human enteric neurons are PKCs γ and ε and in muscle the dominant form is PKCδ. Neurons were weakly stained for PKCβI. These observations parallel findings in guinea-pig and mouse, except that in human PKCγ-IR was not present in the same types of neurons that express it in the guinea-pig. Enteric glial cells were strongly immunoreactive for PKCα, which is also the major isoform in enteric glial cells of guinea-pig. In human and guinea-pig, glial cells also express PKCβI. Spindle-shaped cells in the mucosa were immunoreactive for PKCα and PKCγ and in the muscle layers similar cells had PKCγ-IR and PKCθ-IR. The spindle-shaped cells were similar in morphology to interstitial cells of Cajal. Western analysis and RT-PCR confirmed the presence of the PKC isoform proteins and mRNA in the tissue. We conclude that there is cell-type specific expression of different PKCs in enteric neurons and intestinal muscle in human tissue, and that there are strong similarities in patterns of expression between laboratory animals and human, but some clear differences are also observed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)537-548
Number of pages12
JournalHistochemistry and Cell Biology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2006


  • Enteric nervous system
  • Human intestine
  • Intestinal muscle
  • Protein kinase C

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