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Cell Tissue Res. 2013 Nov;354(2):355-70. doi: 10.1007/s00441-013-1685-8. Epub 2013 Jul 24.

Expression of neuropeptides and anoctamin 1 in the embryonic and adult zebrafish intestine, revealing neuronal subpopulations and ICC-like cells.

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Laboratory of Human Anatomy and Embryology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Antwerp, Groenenborgerlaan 171, 2020, Antwerpen, Belgium.


This immunohistochemical study in zebrafish aims to extend the neurochemical characterization of enteric neuronal subpopulations and to validate a marker for identification of interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC). The expression of neuropeptides and anoctamin 1 (Ano1), a selective ICC marker in mammals, was analyzed in both embryonic and adult intestine. Neuropeptides were present from 3 days postfertilization (dpf). At 3 dpf, galanin-positive nerve fibers were found in the proximal intestine, while calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP)- and substance P-expressing fibers appeared in the distal intestine. At 5 dpf, immunoreactive fibers were present along the entire intestinal length, indicating a well-developed peptidergic innervation at the onset of feeding. In the adult intestine, vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP), pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating peptide (PACAP), galanin, CGRP and substance P were detected in nerve fibers. Colchicine pretreatment enhanced only VIP and PACAP immunoreactivity. VIP and PACAP were coexpressed in enteric neurons. Colocalization stainings revealed three neuronal subpopulations expressing VIP and PACAP: a nitrergic noncholinergic subpopulation, a serotonergic subpopulation and a subpopulation expressing no other markers. Ano1-immunostaining revealed a 3-dimensional network in the adult intestine containing multipolar cells at the myenteric plexus and bipolar cells interspersed between circular smooth muscle cells. Ano1 immunoreactivity first appeared at 3 dpf, indicative of the onset of proliferation of ICC-like cells. It is shown that the Ano1 antiserum is a selective marker of ICC-like cells in the zebrafish intestine. Finally, it is hypothesized that ICC-like cells mediate the spontaneous regular activity of the embryonic intestine.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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