Mapping 5-HT inputs to enteric neurons of the guinea-pig small intestine

K. B. Neal, J. C. Bornstein

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35 Citations (Scopus)


5-HT released by gastrointestinal mucosa and enteric interneurons has powerful effects on gut behavior. However, the targets of 5-HT-containing neurons within enteric circuits are not well characterized. We used antisera against 5-HT and selected markers of known enteric neuron types to investigate the connections made by 5-HT-containing neurons in the guinea-pig jejunum. Confocal microscopy was used to quantify the number of 5-HT-immunoreactive varicosities apposed to immunohistochemically identified cell bodies. Large numbers of varicosities were identified apposing cholinergic secretomotor neurons, immunoreactive for neuropeptide Y, in both myenteric and submucous plexuses. Subgroups of neurons identified by calretinin (ascending interneurons) and nitric oxide synthase (descending interneurons and inhibitory motor neurons) immunoreactivity were also apposed by many varicosities. Longitudinal muscle motor neurons (calretinin immunoreactive) and AH/Dogiel type II (sensory) neurons (calbindin immunoreactive) were apposed by small numbers of varicosities. Combined retrograde tracing and immunohistochemistry were used to identify excitatory circular muscle motor neurons; these were encircled by 5-HT-immunoreactive varicosities, but the appositions could not be quantified. We suggest that 5-HT-containing interneurons are involved in secretomotor pathways and pathways to subgroups of other interneurons, but not longitudinal muscle motor neurons. There also appear to be connections between 5-HT-containing interneurons and excitatory circular muscle motor neurons. Physiological evidence demonstrates a functional connection between 5-HT-containing interneurons and AH/Dogiel type II neurons, but few 5-HT-immunoreactive varicosities were observed apposing calbindin-immunoreactive cell bodies. Taken together these results suggest that neural 5-HT may have significant roles in excitatory pathways regulating both motility and secretion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)556-567
Number of pages12
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • 5-HT
  • enteric circuits
  • enteric nervous system
  • interneurons
  • secretomotor neurons
  • synaptic connections

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