Somatostatin-immunoreactive nerves and endocrine cells were localized by use of immunohistochemistry in human stomach, small and large intestine. The nature of the immunoreactivity in acid extracts of separated layers of intestine was determined with separation by high pressure liquid chromatography followed by detection with radioimmunoassay; authentic somatostatin-14 was found in the external musculature, which contains nerves, and in the submucosa and mucosa, which contain both nerve fibres and endocrine cells. The distribution of somatostatin nerves in the gastric antrum, duodenum, jejunum, ileum, ascending and sigmoid colon, and rectum is described. In the intestine many positive perikarya and fine varicose fibres were seen. Mucosal fibres formed a sub-epithelial plexus and a looser network in the lamina propria; this nerve supply was less dense in the large intestine. Submucous ganglia contained positive perikarya and terminals; many terminals formed pericellular baskets, mainly around non-reactive cells. A small number of nerve fibres were associated with submucosal blood vessels. The innervation of the circular and longitudinal muscle was sparse. Positive nerve terminals were seen in the myenteric plexus, although fewer than in the submucous ganglia; positive perikarya were scarce in myenteric ganglia. Somatostatin-immunoreactive nerves were found in the muscle layers and myenteric plexus of the gastric antrum, but were not detected in the antral mucosa and all layers of the gastric body. The distribution of human enteric somatostatin nerves is compared to that in small laboratory animals, and possible roles for these nerves are discussed.
- Intestine small
- Intestine, large
- Somatostatin immunoreactivity
- Somatostatin-containing neurons