The nitrergic system of the ileal myenteric plexus of four mammalian species was studied by means of NADPH diaphorase histochemistry which in aldehyde-fixed tissue stains only those cells that contain the constitutive, calcium-dependent nitrogen monoxide synthase isoenzyme. Since previous studies assumed minor species-specific anatomical variations, we sought similarities and differences in the nitrergic innervation pattern of the ileal musculature. In rat and guinea-pig, the ratio of nitrergic cells slightly exceeds 20%, in rabbit it is close to this number (16%), and it is lowest in cat (about 10%). The nitrergic neurons target the circular muscle layer in all investigated species where they participate in inhibitory motoric transmission. Apart from this, some elements of the sensory innervation of the circular musculature may derive from nitrergic neurons in rat and rabbit. The tertiary plexus (longitudinal muscles) is strongly supplied by NADPH diaphorase positive fibres in rat, moderately in guinea- pig and cat and not at all in rabbit. The rest of the nitrergic neurons may serve as inhibitory interneurons and control other (probably excitatory motor) neurons in the myenteric plexus. We conclude that the diverse physiological and pharmacological properties of the nitrergic system described in the small intestine in different species can be connected with the anatomical heterogeneity of its elements.
- Enzyme histochemistry
- Nitrergic innervation
- Small intestine
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)