Cell and Tissue Research

, Volume 341, Issue 1, pp 33–48 | Cite as

Immunoreactivity for high-affinity choline transporter colocalises with VAChT in human enteric nervous system

  • Andrea M. Harrington
  • Margaret Lee
  • Sim-Yee Ong
  • Eric Yong
  • Pamela Farmer
  • Cristal J. Peck
  • Chung W. Chow
  • John M. Hutson
  • Bridget R. Southwell
Regular Article


Cholinergic nerves are identified by labelling molecules in the ACh synthesis, release and destruction pathway. Recently, antibodies against another molecule in this pathway have been developed. Choline reuptake at the synapse occurs via the high-affinity choline transporter (CHT1). CHT1 immunoreactivity is present in cholinergic nerve fibres containing vesicular acetylcholine transporter (VAChT) in the human and rat central nervous system and rat enteric nervous system. We have examined whether CHT1 immunoreactivity is present in nerve fibres in human intestine and whether it is colocalised with markers of cholinergic, tachykinergic or nitrergic circuitry. Human ileum and colon were fixed, sectioned and processed for fluorescence immunohistochemistry with antibodies against CHT1, class III beta-tubulin (TUJ1), synaptophysin, common choline acetyl-transferase (cChAT), VAChT, nitric oxide synthase (NOS), substance P (SP) and vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP). CHT1 immunoreactivity was present in many nerve fibres in the circular and longitudinal muscle, myenteric and submucosal ganglia, submucosa and mucosa in human colon and ileum and colocalised with immunoreactivity for TUJ1 and synaptophysin confirming its presence in nerve fibres. In nerve fibres in myenteric ganglia and muscle, CHT1 immunoreactivity colocalised with immunoreactivity for VAChT and cChAT. Some colocalisation occurred with SP immunoreactivity, but little with immunoreactivity for VIP or NOS. In the mucosa, CHT1 immunoreactivity colocalised with that for VIP and SP in nerve fibres and was also present in vascular nerve fibres in the submucosa and on epithelial cells on the luminal border of crypts. The colocalisation of CHT1 immunoreactivity with VAChT immunoreactivity in cholinergic enteric nerves in the human bowel thus suggests that CHT1 represents another marker of cholinergic nerves.


Cholinergic nerves Enteric nervous system High affinity choline transporter Immunofluorescence Vesicular acetylcholine transporter Intestine Human 



Dr. Katerina Lips kindly supplied antibodies and advice for Western blotting. Out thanks are extended to Emma Clifton who assisted with Western blotting. The authors declare no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea M. Harrington
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  • Margaret Lee
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sim-Yee Ong
    • 1
    • 2
  • Eric Yong
    • 1
    • 2
  • Pamela Farmer
    • 1
  • Cristal J. Peck
    • 1
    • 2
  • Chung W. Chow
    • 4
    • 5
  • John M. Hutson
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  • Bridget R. Southwell
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.F. Douglas Stephens Surgical Research LaboratoryMurdoch Childrens Research InstituteParkvilleAustralia
  2. 2.Gut Motility Laboratory, Surgical Research GroupMurdoch Childrens Research Institute, Royal Children’s HospitalParkvilleAustralia
  3. 3.Department of General Surgery and UrologyRoyal Childrens HospitalParkvilleAustralia
  4. 4.Department of PaediatricsUniversity of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia
  5. 5.Department of Anatomical PathologyRoyal Childrens HospitalParkvilleAustralia

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