Distribution of NADPH Diaphorase-Positive Neurons in the Enteric Nervous System of the Rabbit Intestine

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Nitric oxide (NO) has been proposed as an inhibitory transmitter in gastrointestinal muscle relaxation. We analyzed the distribution of nitric-oxide producing neurons in the rabbit intestine through nicotinamide-adenine-dinucleotide-phosphate-diaphorase histochemistry. By this reliable and convenient method, we visualized neuronal nitric-oxide-synthase, the enzyme responsible for nitric oxide generation, in the rabbit intestine. In the ileum and rectum, nitric-oxide-synthase-related diaphorase activity was present in the myenteric plexus ganglion cells, and in the nerve fibers in the internodal strand, secondary, and tertiary plexuses. These fibers were particularly abundant in the deep circular rather than in the outer longitudinal muscle layer. In the inner submucosal plexus, we found scarce labeled neurons. Labeled neural somata showed a range of sizes and shapes suggesting different functional roles. The present basic information is required to use the rabbit as an experimental animal in neurochemical NO enteric research.

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