Morphological and Immunohistochemical Characterization of Human Intrinsic Gastric Neurons

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Doctoral Thesis
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Anetsberger, Daniel
Cells Tissues Organs

Our knowledge about human gastric enteric neuron types is even more limited than that of human intestinal types. Here, we immunohistochemically stained wholemounts and sec- tions of gastric specimens obtained from 18 tumor-resected patients. Myenteric wholemounts were labeled for choline acetyl transferase (ChAT), neuronal nitric oxide synthase (NOS), and the human neuronal protein HuC/D (as panneuronal marker for quantitative analysis) or alternatively for neurofilament (for morphological evaluation). ChAT-positive neurons outnumbered NOS-positive neurons (56 vs. 27%), and neurons negative for both markers accounted for 17%. Two larger groups of neurons (each between 12 and 14%) costained for ChAT and vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) or for NOS and VIP, respectively. Clear morphochemical correlation was found for uniaxonal stubby type I neurons (ChAT+; putative excitatory inter- or motor neurons), for uniaxonal spiny type I neurons (NOS+/VIP+; putative inhibitory motor or interneurons), and for multiaxonal type II neurons (ChAT+; putative afferent neurons; immunostaining of ad- ditional wholemounts revealed their coreactivity for soma- tostatin). Whereas these latter neuron types were already known from the human intestine, the morphology of gastric myenteric neurons coreactive for ChAT and VIP was newly described: they had numerous short, extremely thin dendrites and resembled, together with their cell bodies, a “hairy” head. In our sections, nerve fibers coreactive for ChAT and VIP were commonly found only in the mucosa. We suggest these myenteric ChAT+/VIP+/hairy neurons to be mucosal effector neurons. In contrast to myenteric neurons, the much less common submucosal neurons were not embedded in a continuous plexus and did not display any clear morphochemical phenotypes.

Morphological and Immunohistochemical Characterization of Human Intrinsic Gastric Neurons
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