Nonadrenergic noncholinergic (NANC) relaxations of the guinea pig trachea are thought to be mediated by vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) and nitric oxide (NO). Physiological studies have indicated that the parasympathetic ganglion neurons mediating NANC relaxations of the guinea pig trachea but not the ganglion neurons mediating cholinergic contractions are in some way associated with the adjacent esophagus. In the present study, we attempted to locate precisely the noncholinergic parasympathetic ganglia innervating the trachealis. Two days after injection of the retrograde neuronal tracer DiI into the trachealis of organotypic cultures of the guinea pig trachea and esophagus, neurons within the myenteric plexus of the esophagus or closely associated with the outer striated longitudinal muscle layers of the esophagus were labeled. Subsequent immunohistochemical analyses revealed that a majority of the retrogradely labeled neurons possessed VIP immunoreactivity (IR) or NO synthase (NOS)-IR or had VIP-IR nerve fibers associated with their cell bodies. By contrast, no labeling of esophageal neurons was seen when the tissue between the trachea and esophagus had been disrupted by blunt dissection prior to tracer injection or when the cultures were treated with the axonal transport inhibitor colchicine. The results of these experiments provide the first direct evidence that VIP-IR and NOS-IR neurons intrinsic to the guinea pig esophagus project axons to the adjacent trachealis. Based on their location and phenotype and the results of our previous studies, it is likely that these neurons are the postganglionic parasympathetic neurons mediating NANC relaxations of the trachealis.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||9|
|Journal||Journal of Comparative Neurology|
|State||Published - May 11 1998|
- Airway smooth muscle
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