Although neurons containing neuronal nitric oxide synthase (NOS) are abundant in the myenteric plexus of the small intestine of all mammalian species examined to date, NOS-containing neurons are sparse in the submucous plexus, and there does not appear to be an innervation of the mucosa by nerve fibres containing NOS. In this study, we used immunohistochemical techniques to examine the presence of neuronal NOS in the mouse intestine during development. At embryonic day 18 and postnatal day 0 (P0), about 50% of the neurons in the submucous plexus of the small intestine showed strong immunoreactivity to NOS, and NOS-immunoreactive nerve fibres were present in the mucosa. By P7, there was a gradation in the intensity of NOS immunostaining exhibited by submucosal neurons, varying from intense to extremely weak. During subsequent development, the proportion of submucous neurons showing NOS immunoreactivity decreased, and immunoreactive nerve fibres were no longer observed in the mucosa. In adult mice, NOS neurons comprised only 3% of neurons in the submucous plexus, which is significantly less than at P0. In contrast to the submucous plexus, the percentage of neurons that showed NOS immunoreactivity in the myenteric plexus did not change significantly during development.
Cell and Tissue Research – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 12, 1998
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