Cholinergic nerves are identified by labelling molecules in the ACh synthesis, release and destruction pathway. Recently, antibodies against another molecule in this pathway have been developed. Choline reuptake at the synapse occurs via the high-affinity choline transporter (CHT1). CHT1 immunoreactivity is present in cholinergic nerve fibres containing vesicular acetylcholine transporter (VAChT) in the human and rat central nervous system and rat enteric nervous system. We have examined whether CHT1 immunoreactivity is present in nerve fibres in human intestine and whether it is colocalised with markers of cholinergic, tachykinergic or nitrergic circuitry. Human ileum and colon were fixed, sectioned and processed for fluorescence immunohistochemistry with antibodies against CHT1, class III beta-tubulin (TUJ1), synaptophysin, common choline acetyl-transferase (cChAT), VAChT, nitric oxide synthase (NOS), substance P (SP) and vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP). CHT1 immunoreactivity was present in many nerve fibres in the circular and longitudinal muscle, myenteric and submucosal ganglia, submucosa and mucosa in human colon and ileum and colocalised with immunoreactivity for TUJ1 and synaptophysin confirming its presence in nerve fibres. In nerve fibres in myenteric ganglia and muscle, CHT1 immunoreactivity colocalised with immunoreactivity for VAChT and cChAT. Some colocalisation occurred with SP immunoreactivity, but little with immunoreactivity for VIP or NOS. In the mucosa, CHT1 immunoreactivity colocalised with that for VIP and SP in nerve fibres and was also present in vascular nerve fibres in the submucosa and on epithelial cells on the luminal border of crypts. The colocalisation of CHT1 immunoreactivity with VAChT immunoreactivity in cholinergic enteric nerves in the human bowel thus suggests that CHT1 represents another marker of cholinergic nerves.
- Cholinergic nerves
- Enteric nervous system
- High affinity choline transporter
- Vesicular acetylcholine transporter