Morphological characteristics and immunohistochemical detection of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors on intestinofugal afferent neurones in guinea-pig colon.
ABSTRACT Intestinofugal afferent neurones (IFANs) provide excitatory synaptic input to abdominal prevertebral ganglion neurones. Input is greatly reduced during blockade of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) in the wall of the colon, suggesting two projection pathways: a direct pathway without synaptic interruption and an indirect pathway interrupted by at least one nicotinic cholinergic synapse. This study aimed to characterize the morphology of IFANs and examine the distribution of nAChRs on them. We identified IFANs in guinea-pig colon by retrograde labelling with fluorescent tracer DiI placed either on the lumbar colonic nerves in vitro or inferior mesenteric ganglion in vivo. Confocal laser scanning microscopy and computerized image-processing software were used for 3D image reconstruction. Approximately 70% of identified IFANs had Dogiel type I-like morphology, the remainder were Dogiel type II-like. In vivo labelled IFANs were injected with Lucifer Yellow and immunostained for nAChRs using monoclonal antibody MAb35. Approximately 3% of total plasma membrane surface of IFANs with Dogiel type I morphology had MAb35-IR. In contrast, <1% of membrane surface of IFANs with Dogiel type II morphology had MAb35-IR. The finding that IFANs displayed immunostaining for nAChRs suggests the presence of putative nicotinic synapses.