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Shapes of nerve cells in the myenteric plexus of the guinea-pig small intestine revealed by the intracellular injection of dye

Summary

The shapes of myenteric neurons in the guineapig small intestine were determined after injecting living neurons with the dye Lucifer yellow via a microelectrode. The cells were fixed and the distribution of Lucifer yellow rendered permanent by an immunohistochemical method. Each of 204 nerve cells was examined in whole-mount preparations of the myenteric plexus and drawn using a camera lucida at 1250 x magnification. Four cell shapes were distinguished: (1) neurons with several long processes corresponding to type II of Dogiel; (2) neurons with a single long process and lamellar dendrites corresponding to type I of Dogiel; (3) neurons with numerous filamentous dendrites; and (4) small neurons with few processes. About 15% of the neurons could not be placed into these classes or into any single class. The type II neurons (39% of the sample) had generally smooth somata and up to 7 (average 3.3) long processes, most of which ran circumferentially. Dogiel type I neurons (34% of sampled neurons) had characteristic lamellar dendrites, i.e., broad dendrites that were flattened in the plane of the plexus. The filamentous neurons (7% of the sample), had, on average, 14 fine processes up to about 50 μm in length. Small neurons with smooth outlines and a few fine processes made up 5% of the neurons encountered. We conclude that myenteric neurons that have been injected with dye can be separated into morphologically distinct classes and that the different morphological classes probably correspond to different functional groupings of neurons.

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Correspondence to Dr. J. B. Furness.

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Furness, J.B., Bornstein, J.C. & Trussell, D.C. Shapes of nerve cells in the myenteric plexus of the guinea-pig small intestine revealed by the intracellular injection of dye. Cell Tissue Res. 254, 561–571 (1988). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00226506

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Key words

  • Enteric nervous system
  • Intestine, small
  • Neurons, types
  • Myenteric plexus
  • Intracellular dye injection (Lucifer yellow)
  • Guinea pig