Dr. Michael Blennerhassett Ph.D. (Western Ontario)
Professor, Dept. of Medicine. Cross Appts: Depts. of Biology and Physiology
Office Tel: 613 5496666 x6523
Lab Telephones: x6542 / x6543 blennerm@queensu.ca
Blennerhassett Lab website

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We examine the effects of inflamation on the nerve-smooth muscle relationship of the intestine. Using immunocytochemistry, morphometric analysis and functional assays, we study the structure and function of intestinal innervation, as well as smooth muscle cell physiology. While establishing a better knowledge of physiology then allows investigation of the changes seen in the inflamed intestine, little is known in this area and the studies of normal and inflamed tissue commonly proceed in parallel. Our recent work has shown that transmural inflamation of the rat colon causes irreversible loss of myenteric and submucosal neurons. Further, we found that rapid and extensive axonal proliferation by the surviving neurons re-innervates the smooth muscle cells. This may be directly applicable to our understanding of human disease, since neuronal loss and damage could lead to the symptoms of post-enteritis Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).