Regional differences in the sympathetic innervation of the guinea pig large intestine by neuropeptide Y- and tyrosine hydroxylase-immunoreactive nerves of divergent extrinsic origin

K N Browning, S M C Cunningham, L Duncan, J P Timmermans, G M Lees

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Region-specific patterns of nerves with immunoreactivity to neuropeptide Y (NPY) have been described previously in the submucous plexus of guinea pig large intestine. Because these may have functional significance, the possibility of similar, characteristic variations of NPY-Like immunoreactivity (NPY-ir) in the myenteric plexus was explored. Regional differences were found in the occurrence and pattern of distribution of NPY-ir in the myenteric plexus of the guinea pig large intestine. NPY-ir was present rarely within neuron somata in any region of the large intestine, and NPY-ir nerve fibers were present only within the distal large intestine, increasing progressively in density from the distal spiral to the rectum. Lesion of the colonic nerves, but not the hypogastric, intermesenteric, or lumbar splanchnic nerves, resulted in a loss of NPY-ir in the distal spiral and transverse colon but not in the descending colon or rectum. Ring myotomies in the descending colon resulted in a loss of NPY-ir proximal to the lesion. Dual-labeling immunohistochemical studies revealed that the NPY-ir nerve fibers rarely contained immunoreactivity for tyrosine hydroxylase (TH). Extrinsic nerve lesions resulted in an unequivocal reduction in NPY ir in intraganglionic fibers of the submucosal plexuses of the transverse colon and a:partial loss in the distal spiral and descending colon: the rectum was unaffected; in only a minority of guinea pigs, however, was any decrease in the NPY-ir innervation of submucosal blood vessels detected. The principal projections of NPY-ir nerves were from and through the inferior mesenteric ganglion; however, NPY-ir was not colocalized with TH-ir. It is proposed that nonnoradrenergic, NPY-containing neurons located in the inferior mesenteric ganglion project through the colonic nerves and that these proximally directed fibers innervate the transverse colon and the distal spiral. Nonnoradrenergic, NPY-ir neurons lying in the pelvic ganglia or sacral sympathetic chain may make an important contribution to the innervation of the myenteric plexus of the rectum and the descending colon. (C) 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515-530
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • myenteric plexus
  • submucosal plexus
  • colon
  • rectum
  • extrinsic nerves

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