, Volume 79, Issue 6, pp 581-583

Parkinson's disease: an immunohistochemical study of Lewy body-containing neurons in the enteric nervous system

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We performed immunohistochemical analysis of specimens from three autopsied patients with Parkinson's disease, using antibodies to tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP), somatostatin, met-enkephalin, leu-enkephalin and substance P in an attempt to reveal the types of neurons that contain Lewy bodies (LBs) in the paravertebral and celiac sympathetic ganglia and in the enteric nervous system of the alimentary tract. In the sympathetic ganglia, almost all LB-containing neuronal cell bodies and processes were immunoreactive for TH. In the alimentary tract, however, most LBs were found in the VIP-immunoreactive (VIP-IR) neuronal cell bodies and processes. In spite of the significant presence of TH-IR neuronal cell bodies and processes in the alimentary tract, LB-containing TH-IR neuronal elements were rarely encountered. These findings indicate that in the alimentary tract, the VIP neuron system is mainly involved in the disease process of Parkinson's disease.