PloS one

Architecture and Chemical Coding of the Inner and Outer Submucous Plexus in the Colon of Piglets.

PMID 26230272


In the porcine colon, the submucous plexus is divided into an inner submucous plexus (ISP) on the epithelial side and an outer submucous plexus (OSP) on the circular muscle side. Although both plexuses are probably involved in the regulation of epithelial functions, they might differ in function and neurochemical coding according to their localization. Therefore, we examined expression and co-localization of different neurotransmitters and neuronal markers in both plexuses as well as in neuronal fibres. Immunohistochemical staining was performed on wholemount preparations of ISP and OSP and on cryostat sections. Antibodies against choline acetyltransferase (ChAT), substance P (SP), somatostatin (SOM), neuropeptide Y (NPY), vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP), neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) and the pan-neuronal markers Hu C/D and neuron specific enolase (NSE) were used. The ISP contained 1,380 ± 131 ganglia per cm2 and 122 ± 12 neurons per ganglion. In contrast, the OSP showed a wider meshwork (215 ± 33 ganglia per cm2) and smaller ganglia (57 ± 3 neurons per ganglion). In the ISP, 42% of all neurons expressed ChAT. About 66% of ChAT-positive neurons co-localized SP. A small number of ISP neurons expressed SOM. Chemical coding in the OSP was more complex. Besides the ChAT/±SP subpopulation (32% of all neurons), a nNOS-immunoreactive population (31%) was detected. Most nitrergic neurons were only immunoreactive for nNOS; 10% co-localized with VIP. A small subpopulation of OSP neurons was immunoreactive for ChAT/nNOS/±VIP. All types of neurotransmitters found in the ISP or OSP were also detected in neuronal fibres within the mucosa. We suppose that the cholinergic population in the ISP is involved in the control of epithelial functions. Regarding neurochemical coding, the OSP shares some similarities with the myenteric plexus. Because of its location and neurochemical characteristics, the OSP may be involved in controlling both the mucosa and circular muscle.

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