Visceral afferents play a key role in neural circuits underlying the physiological function of visceral organs. They are responsible for the detection and transmission of a variety of visceral sensations (e.g. satiety, urge, discomfort and pain) from the viscera to the central nervous system. A comprehensive account of the different functional types of visceral sensory neurons would be invaluable in understanding how sensory dysfunction occurs and how it might be diagnosed and treated. Our aim was to explore the morphology of different nerve endings of visceral afferents within the gastrointestinal tract and urinary bladder and how the morphology of these nerve endings may relate to their functional properties. Morphological studies of mechanosensitive endings of visceral afferents to the gut and bladder correlated with physiological recordings have added a new dimension to our ability to distinguish different functional classes of visceral afferents.
- Mechanosensitive sensory endings
- Visceral afferents