Neuro-epithelial bodies in the respiratory mucosa of various mammals

A light optical, histochemical and ultrastructural investigation
  • Joseph M. Lauweryns
  • Marnix Cokelaere
  • Paul Theunynck


Lungs of fetal, neonatal and adult rabbits and of various other adult mammals were investigated. Several routine and silver staining methods, Falck's fluorescent amine technic and various electron microscopic techniques were performed.

As in the human infant lung (Lauwerynset al., 1972) each of these techniques revealed the occurrence throughout the intrapulmonary airways of intramucosal corpuscles or so-called Neuroepithelial Bodies, composed of more or less parallely oriented, non-ciliated cylindrical cells which reach from the basement membrane to the airway lumen and display a prominent cytoplasmic argyrophilia, a less pronounced argentaffinity and an intense yellow fluorescence. Ultrastructurally, they are granulated, containing mainly two types of dense-cored vesicles of which the first type exhibits a positive reaction for serotonin (technic of Jaim-Etcheverryet al., 1968). They contain intracorpuscular nerve endings which form synaptic end formations upon the granulated cells.

Though the functions of these serotonin producing Neuroepithelial Bodies remain furthermore unsettled, they seem to be related also to the recently reported AFG (Argyrophil, Fluorescent and Granulated) cells (Lauwerynset al., 1969, 1970a) and might be involved in various mucosal bronchial and bronchiolar neurosecretory processes; most probably they are chemo-, stretch- and/or tactile neuroreceptor organs modulated by the central nervous system.

Key words

Lung (mammals) Respiratory mucosa Neuroepithelial Bodies Receptors Light microscopy, histochemistry, electron microscopy 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1972

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph M. Lauweryns
    • 1
  • Marnix Cokelaere
    • 1
  • Paul Theunynck
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Medicine, Laboratory of Pathology and HistologyKatholieke Universiteit te LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

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