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Excitatory and inhibitory enteric innervation of horse lower esophageal sphincter

Abstract

The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a specialized, thickened muscle region with a high resting tone mediated by myogenic and neurogenic mechanisms. During swallowing or belching, the LES undergoes strong inhibitory innervation. In the horse, the LES seems to be organized as a “one-way” structure, enabling only the oral-anal progression of food. We characterized the esophageal and gastric pericardial inhibitory and excitatory intramural neurons immunoreactive (IR) for the enzymes neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) and choline acetyltransferase. Large percentages of myenteric plexus (MP) and submucosal (SMP) plexus nNOS-IR neurons were observed in the esophagus (72 ± 9 and 69 ± 8 %, respectively) and stomach (57 ± 17 and 45 ± 3 %, respectively). In the esophagus, cholinergic MP and SMP neurons were 29 ± 14 and 65 ± 24 vs. 36 ± 8 and 38 ± 20 % in the stomach, respectively. The high percentage of nitrergic inhibitory motor neurons observed in the caudal esophagus reinforces the role of the enteric nervous system in the horse LES relaxation. These findings might allow an evaluation of whether selective groups of enteric neurons are involved in horse neurological disorders such as megaesophagus, equine dysautonomia, and white lethal foal syndrome.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Dr. Chiara Bernardini for their technical assistance. This study was supported in part by a Grant (2010bis/2011) from the Fondazione del Monte di Bologna e Ravenna.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Chiocchetti, R., Giancola, F., Mazzoni, M. et al. Excitatory and inhibitory enteric innervation of horse lower esophageal sphincter. Histochem Cell Biol 143, 625–635 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00418-014-1306-y

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Keywords

  • Choline acetyltransferase
  • Enteric nervous system
  • Horse
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Neuronal nitric oxide synthase