Correlation of electrophysiological and morphological characteristics of myenteric neurons of the duodenum in the guinea-pig
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Intracellular recording, dye filling and immunohistochemistry were used to investigate neurons of the proximal duodenum of the guinea-pig. Recordings were made from neurons of the myenteric plexus in the presence of nicardipine to quell muscle contractions, using microelectrodes that contained the marker substance Neurobiotin. Preparations were subsequently processed histochemically to reveal nerve cell shapes and immunoreactivity for calbindin, calretinin or nitric oxide synthase. Neurons were distinguished by their shapes and axonal projections as Dogiel type II, Dogiel type I, filamentous descending interneurons and small filamentous neurons. Dogiel type II cells had large cell bodies and multiple axon processes. They each had a broad action potential (mean half-width, 2.9 ms) and a prominent inflection (hump) on the falling phase of the action potential. The majority (70%) of Dogiel type II cells were AH neurons, defined by their having a prolonged hyperpolarizing potential that followed a soma action potential and lasted more than 2 s. Fast excitatory postsynaptic potentials were not recorded from Dogiel type II neurons. Two thirds of Dogiel type II neurons fired phasically in response to intracellularly injected 500 ms depolarizing current pulses and one-third fired tonically. Calbindin immunoreactivity occurred in 70% of Dogiel type II neurons. Dogiel type I neurons had lamellar dendrites and a single axon. They had brief action potentials (mean half-width, 1.7 ms) with no, or a slight hump. They responded to fibre tract stimulation with fast excitatory postsynaptic potentials. Only 2/21 exhibited a prolonged hyperpolarization following action potentials. The majority of Dogiel type I neurons thus belong to the S neuron category. Nine Dogiel type I neurons fired phasically in response to 500 ms depolarizing current pulses, while 12 fired tonically. Filamentous descending interneurons had long, branching filamentous dendrites and a single anally-projecting axon which gave rise to varicose branches in myenteric ganglia. Action potential characteristics of filamentous interneurons ranged between those of Dogiel type II and type I neurons. Small neurons. Small neurons with short filamentous, or few simple dendrites were also characterized. They had single axons, which could be traced either locally to the circular muscle, or to the longitudinal muscle. None of 12 filamentous interneurons or of 10 small filamentous neurons exhibited a prolonged post-spike hyperpolarization, whereas fast excitatory postsynaptic potentials were recorded from a majority. It is concluded that the morphological types of neuron that are encountered in the ileum also occur in the duodenum, but the electrophysiological characteristics of the neurons are more variable for each morphological class. Thus, it is not always possible to predict the morphology of myenteric neurons in the duodenum from their electrophysiological properties. Part of the electrophysiological variability appears to be due to duodenal neurons being more excitable than ileal neurons.
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