Bombesin-like and gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP)-like immunoreactivities were localized in nerves of the guinea-pig small intestine and celiac ganglion with the use of antibodies raised against the synthetic peptides. The anti-bombesin serum (preincubated to avoid cross reactivity with substance P) and the anti-GRP serum revealed the same population of neurons. Preincubation of the antibombesin serum with bombesin abolished the immunoreactivity in nerves while absorption of the anti-GRP serum with either bombesin or the 14-27 C-terminal of GRP only reduced the immunoreactivity. The immunoreactivity was abolished by incubation with GRP 1-27. Immunoreactive nerves were found in the myenteric plexus, circular muscle, submucous plexus and in the celiac ganglion. Faintly reactive nerve cell bodies were found in the myenteric ganglia (3.2% of all neurons) but not in submucous ganglia. After all ascending and descending pathways in the myenteric plexus had been cut, reactive terminals disappeared in the myenteric plexus, circular muscle (including the deep muscular plexus) and the submucous plexus on the anal side. After the mesenteric nerves were cut no changes were observed in the intestinal wall but the reactive fibres in celiac ganglia disappeared. It is deduced that GRP/bombesin-immunoreactive nerve cell bodies in myenteric ganglia project from the myenteric plexus to other myenteric ganglia situated further anally (average length 12 mm), anally to the circular muscle (average length 9 mm), anally to submucous ganglia (average length 13 mm) and external to the intestine to the celiac ganglia. It is concluded that the GRP/bombesin-reactive neurons in the intestinal wall represent a distinct population of enteric neurons likely to be involved in controlling motility and in the coordination of other intestinal functions.
- Enteric nervous system
- Gastrin releasing peptide