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Gut. 2002 Jul;51(1):70-5.

Cholinergic and nitrergic interneurones in the myenteric plexus of the human colon.

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Department of Surgery and Centre for Neuroscience, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia.



Myenteric interneurones are involved in the reflexes that control the motility of the human colon.


The distribution of choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) and nitric oxide synthase (NOS) immunoreactivity in myenteric interneurones was investigated in this study.


DiI (1,1'- didodecyl 3,3,3',3'-indocarbocyanine perchlorate) was applied to the myenteric plexus of the human colon followed by organotypic culture. Retrogradely labelled neurones, with projections longer than motor neurones (>10 mm), were studied to exclude motor neurone populations. ChAT and NOS immunoreactivity was then determined in the interneurones.


We found that 90% of interneurones projecting orally contained ChAT and none contained NOS. Ninety five per cent of descending interneurones were labelled with ChAT and/or NOS antisera; 46% contained NOS immunoreactivity alone, 20% contained ChAT immunoreactivity alone, and 29% contained both ChAT and NOS. Anally directed interneurones had significantly longer projections than orally projecting interneurones.


Nearly all interneurones contain either NOS or ChAT immunoreactivity. Orally projecting interneurones are of two types: 90% contain ChAT alone and the remainder contain immunoreactivity for neither ChAT nor NOS. There are three main types of anally projecting interneurones: the largest, which contains NOS but not ChAT, and the two smaller classes which contain ChAT and NOS, and CHAT alone.

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