The origins, pathways and terminations of neurons with VIP-like immunoreactivity in the guinea-pig small intestine

M. Costa, J. B. Furness

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    171 Citations (Scopus)


    We have analyzed changes in the distributions of terminals with vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP)-like immunoreactivity, and accumulations in severed processes, that occur after lesions of intrinsic and extrinsic nerve pathways of the guinea-pig small intestine. The observations indicate that enteric vasoactive intestinal polypeptide immunoreactive neurons have the following projections. Nerve cell bodies in the myenteric plexus provide varicose processes to the underlying circular muscle; the majority of these pathways, if they extend at all in the anal or oral directions, do so for distances of less than 1 mm. Nerve cell bodies of the myenteric plexus also project anally to provide terminals to other myenteric ganglia. The lengths of the majority of these projections are between 2 and 10 mm, with an average length of about 6 mm. Processes of myenteric neurons also run anally in the myenteric plexus and then penetrate the circular muscle to provide varicose processes in the submucous ganglia at distances of up to 15 mm, the average length being 9-12 mm. In addition, there is an intestinofugal projection of myenteric neurons whose processes end around nerve cell bodies of the coeliac ganglia. A similar projection from the colon supplies the inferior mesenteric ganglia. The nerve cell bodies in submucous ganglia give rise to a subepithelial network of fibres in the mucosa and also supply terminals to submucous arterioles. It is concluded that vasoactive intestinal polypeptide is contained in neurons of a number of intrinsic nerve pathways, influencing motility, blood flow and mucosal transport. The myenteric neurons that project to prevertebral sympathetic ganglia may be involved in intestino-intestinal reflexes.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)665-676
    Number of pages12
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 1983


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