Distribution of nitric oxide synthase and vasoactive intestinal polypeptide immunoreactivity in the sphincter of Oddi and duodenum of the possum
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The nitrergic innervation of the sphincter of Oddi (SO) and duodenum in the Australian brush-tailed possum and the possible association of this innervation with the neuropeptide vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) were investigated by using immunohistochemical localisation of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) and VIP, together with the general neuronal marker, protein gene product 9.5 (PGP9.5). Whole-mount preparations of the duodenum and attached SO without the mucosa, submucosa and circular muscle (n=12) were double- and triple-labelled. The density of myenteric nerve cell bodies of the SO in the more distal region (duodenal end) was significantly higher than that in the more proximal region. In the SO, approximately 50% of all cells were NOS-immunoreactive (IR), with 27% of the NOS-IR cells being VIP-IR. Within the duodenal myenteric plexus, NOS immunoreactivity was present in about 25% of all neurons, with 27% of these NOS-IR neurons also being VIP-IR, a similar proportion to that in the SO. Varicose nerve fibres with NOS and VIP immunoreactivity were present within the myenteric and submucous plexuses of the SO and duodenum, and in the circular and longitudinal muscle layers. The NOS-positive cells within both the SO and duodenum were unipolar, displaying a typical Dogiel type I morphology. The myenteric plexuses of the SO and duodenum were in direct continuity, with many interconnecting nerve trunks, some of which showed NOS and VIP immunoreactivity. Thus, the possum possesses an extensive NOS innervation of the SO and duodenum, with a significantly higher proportion of NOS-IR neurons within the SO, a subset of which contains VIP.
Cell and Tissue Research