Morphological and immunohistochemical identification of neurons and their targets in the guinea-pig duodenum
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Nerve circuits within the proximal duodenum were investigated using a combination of immunohistochemistry for individual neuron markers and lesion of intrinsic nerve pathways to determine axon projections. Cell shapes and axonal projections were also studied in cells that had been injected with a marker substance. Several major neuron populations were identified. Calbindin immunoreactivity occurred in a population of myenteric nerve cells with Dogiel type II morphology. These had axons that projected to other myenteric ganglia, to the circular muscle and to the mucosa. All were immunoreactive for the synthesizing enzyme for acetylcholine, choline acetyltransferase, and some were also immunoreactive for calretinin. Myenteric neurons with nitric oxide synthase immunoreactivity projected anally to the circular muscle. These were also immunoreactive for vasoactive intestinal peptide, and proportions of them had enkephalin and/or neuropeptide Y immunoreactivity. It is suggested that they are inhibitory motor neurons to the circular muscle. A very few (about 2%) of nitric oxide synthase-immunoreactive neurons had choline acetyltransferase immunoreactivity. Tachykinin (substance P)-immunoreactive nerve cells were numerous in the myenteric plexus. Some of these projected orally to the circular muscle and are concluded to be excitatory motor neurons. Others projected to the tertiary plexus which innervates the longitudinal muscle and others provided terminals in the myenteric plexus. Two groups of descending interneurons were identified, one with somatostatin immunoreactivity and one with vasoactive intestinal peptide immunoreactivity. The two most common nerve cells in submucous ganglia were neuropeptide Y- and vasoactive intestinal peptide-immunoreactive nerve cells. Both provided innervation of the mucosa. There was also a population of calretinin-immunoreactive submucous neurons that innervated the mucosal glands, but not the villi. Comparison with the ileum reveals similarities in the chemistries and projections of neurons. Differences include the almost complete absence of nitric oxide synthase immunoreactivity from vasoactive intestinal peptide-immunoreactive interneurons in the duodenum, the projection of calbindin-immunoreactive Dogiel type II neurons to the circular muscle and the absence of tachykinin-immunoreactivity from these neurons.
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