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Localisation of substance P-, somatostatin-, vasoactive intestinal polypeptide and met-enkephalin-immunoreactive nerves in the peripheral and central nervous systems of the leech (Hirudo medicinalis)

Summary

The distribution of substance P (SP)-, somatostatin (SOM)-, vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP)- and met-enkephalin (mENK)-immunoreactive nerve fibres and cell bodies has been studied in the gastrointestinal tract, lateral blood vessel (heart) and segmental ganglia of the leech (Hirudo medicinalis). In the crop and intestine, there was a sparse distribution of VIP-, SP-, SOM- and mENK-immunoreactive nerves, while in the intestine, a dense network of SP-, a moderate network of SOM-, and a sparse distribution of mENK- and VIP-immunoreactive nerve fibres was seen. SP-, SOM- and VIP-immunoreactive nerve cell bodies were found in all the gut regions studied, the greatest number being in the intestine. No mENK-containing cell bodies were seen in any region of the gastrointestinal tract. The heart contained a few SP-, SOM-, and VIP-immunoreactive nerve fibres, but no nerve cell bodies were found. Immunoreactive nerve cell bodies were also present in the segmentai ganglia. A typical midbody ganglion contained up to seven pairs of SP-containing neurones, four pairs of SOM-containing neurones, two pairs of VIP-containing neurones and one to three pairs of mENK-immunoreactive nerve cell bodies. The lateral pair of large SOM-immunoreactive nerve cell bodies is of similar size and correct position to the lateral N cells. One of the pairs of large SP-immunoreactive nerve cell bodies is probably identical to the Leydig cells. A tentative identification of other immunofluorescent nerve cells is attempted. Immunoreactive nerve fibres to all four peptides were distributed throughout the neuropil, those to SP being the most numerous.

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Correspondence to Professor G. Burnstock.

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Leake, L.D., Crowe, R. & Burnstock, G. Localisation of substance P-, somatostatin-, vasoactive intestinal polypeptide and met-enkephalin-immunoreactive nerves in the peripheral and central nervous systems of the leech (Hirudo medicinalis). Cell Tissue Res. 243, 345–351 (1986). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00251050

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Key words

  • Neuropeptides
  • Central nervous system, invertebrate
  • Gut
  • Heart
  • Leech (Hirudo medicinalis)