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Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2009 Sep;21(9):994-1001. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2982.2009.01322.x. Epub 2009 Apr 29.

Neurochemical and morphological phenotypes of vagal afferent neurons innervating the adult mouse jejunum.

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Department of Physiology, University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC, Australia.


Whilst much is known about the function and influence of vagal afferents on the mammalian upper gastrointestinal tract, the phenotypes of the different types of vagal afferent neurons innervating the jejunum is unknown. We have previously shown that spinal afferents supplying the jejunum are predominantly medium-sized sensory neurons that express specific combinations of transient receptor potential vanilloid type 1 (TRPV1), neuronal nitric oxide synthase (NOS) and calcitonin-gene related peptide (CGRP) and that they lack binding for isolectin B4 (IB4). This study aimed to identify the chemical phenotypes and somal sizes of jejunal afferent neurons in the mouse vagal ganglion. Jejunal vagal afferents were identified by retrograde labelling with sub-serosal injections of cholera toxin B (CTB) into the jejunal wall and assessed for IB4-binding, TRPV1-, NOS- and CGRP-immunoreactivities using fluorescent microscopy. Almost all (99%) of CTB-labelled vagal afferent neurons were small- and medium-sized sensory cells. Most (81%) jejunal vagal afferents bound IB4 but fewer (32%) expressed TRPV1. A quarter (25%) of those that bound IB4 co-expressed TRPV1-immunoreactivity whilst 77% of TRPV1-expressing jejunal vagal afferent neurons bound IB4. NOS (0%) and CGRP (0%) expression was absent from all CTB-labelled cells examined. In conclusion, vagal afferents innervating the jejunum differ in their expression of IB4, TRPV1, CGRP and NOS from their spinal counterparts, suggesting that the peripheral endings for extrinsic sensory neurons terminating within the enteric nervous system can be identified selectively.

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