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Anat Rec. 2001 Jan 1;262(1):71-8.

Outer submucous plexus: an intrinsic nerve network involved in both secretory and motility processes in the intestine of large mammals and humans.

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Laboratory of Cell Biology and Histology, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium.


The architecture of the enteric nerve networks in the gastrointestinal tract appears to be more complex in large mammals, including humans, than in small laboratory animals. At least two distinct ganglionic nerve plexuses could be identified in the submucous layer in the digestive tract of large mammals. While functionally and morphologically similar neuron populations are found in the intestinal wall of both small and large mammals, significant differences in their topographical organization and neurochemical features may be present. This short review clearly illustrates that the close and exclusive association, which has been assumed so far between the efferent pathways of the submucous plexus and regulation of intestinal secretion/absorption on the one hand and between the myenteric plexus and regulation of intestinal motility on the other hand, cannot be interpreted that strictly. An attempt has been made to give a briefoverview of the current status of the identification of distinct functional enteric neuronal classes in the gastrointestinal tract of large mammals using the pig and human intestine as references, and to compare these data with the more extensive information gathered from the guinea-pig intestine.

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