Distribution of serotonin-immunoreactive nerve cells and fibers in the rat gastrointestinal tract
The distribution of serotonin-immunoreactive (5HT-IR) nerve cells and fibers was thoroughly investigated immunohistochemically in the rat stomach, duodenum, jejunum, ileum, and colon. The immunoreactivity of the 5HT neurons was compared between non-treated controls and animals treated with colchicine, colchicine plus 5-hydroxytryptophan (5HTP), colchicine plus pargyline, and reserpine. The intensity of immunoreactivity in nerve fibers as well as nerve cell bodies was enhanced mostly in colchicine plus pargyline treated animals, therefore these animals were used for an observation of precise localization of 5HT in the rat gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Immunoreactivity in the nerve cell bodies and fibers was completely abolished in the GI tract of reserpine treated animals. The pattern of localization and projection of 5HT-IR neurons was similar in all segments of the rat GI tract. 5HT-IR nerve cell bodies were located in the myenteric plexus and showed the distinctive features of Dogiel type I neurons. Prominent bundles of varicose fibers traversed the myenteric ganglia and some of them surrounded the cell bodies of immunopositive and immunonegative neurons. 5HT-IR nerve fibers were located in the submucous plexus, densely entwined about the submucosal blood vessels. Most characteristically, 5HT-IR nerve fibers invaded the lamina propria of mucosa where they underlay the crypt epithelium. In conclusion, the present study showed that 5HT-IR neurons located in the myenteric plexus projected fibers widely in the rat GI tract. The localization of fibers in the lamina propria of mucosa implies that this neuron may exert an important role in the epithelial function of the GI tract.
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