Oxaliplatin, currently used for treatment of colorectal and other cancers, causes severe gastrointestinal side effects, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation that are attributed to mucosal damage. However, delayed onset and long-term persistence of these side effects suggest that damage to the enteric nervous system (ENS) regulating physiological function of the gastrointestinal tract may also occur. The ENS comprises myenteric and submucosal neurons and enteric glial cells (EGCs). This study aimed to investigate the effects of oxaliplatin treatment on enteric neurons and EGCs within the mouse ileum. BALB/c mice received repeated intraperitoneal injections of oxaliplatin (3 mg/kg, 3 injections/week). Tissues were collected 3, 7, 14, and 21 days from the commencement of treatment. Decreases in glial fibrillary acidic protein–immunoreactive (IR) EGCs and protein gene product 9.5/β-Tubulin III-IR neurons as well as increase in s100β-IR EGCs after chronic oxaliplatin administration were observed in both the myenteric and submucosal plexi. Changes in EGCs were further observed in cross-sections of the ileum at day 14 and confirmed by Western blotting. Alterations in EGCs correlated with loss of myenteric and submucosal neurons in the ileum from oxaliplatin-treated mice. These changes to the ENS may contribute to the mechanisms underlying gastrointestinal side effects associated with oxaliplatin treatment.
- enteric glial cells
- myenteric and submucosal neurons