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Appearance and some neurochemical features of nitrergic neurons in the developing quail digestive tract

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Using immunocytochemistry, NADPH-diaphorase (NADPHd) histochemistry and electron microscopy, the appearance of nitrergic enteric neurons in different digestive tract regions of the embryonic, neonatal and adult quail was studied in whole mounts and sections. NADPHd was first expressed by embryonic day 4–5 in two distinct locations, namely the mesenchyme of the gizzard primordium and at the caeco-colonic junction. At embryonic day 6, nitrergic neurons had already begun to form a myenteric nerve network in the wall of the proventriculus, gizzard and proximal part of the large intestine and by embryonic day 9, a myenteric network was visualized along the entire digestive tract of the quail. At the level of the stomach, this network was confined to the area covered by the intermediate muscles. By embryonic day 12–13, the NADPHd-positive myenteric neurons in the wall of the distal parts of the blind-ending paired caeca also became organized into ganglia. From this developmental stage on, a submucous nitrergic nerve network, sandwiched between the lamina muscularis mucosae and the luminal side of the outer muscle layer, became prominent in the proventriculus and intestinal walls. In the adult quail, only a minority of the NADPHd-positive neurons stained for vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) along the intestine. VIP-immunoreactive (IR) cell bodies were frequent in the myenteric plexus but not in the submucous plexus, whereas there were considerable numbers of NADPHd-positive neurons in both these plexuses. Nitrergic fibres were also observed in the outer muscle layer, but were almost absent from the lamina muscularis mucosa and lamina propria, in contrast to the dense VIP-ergic innervation encircling the bases of the intestinal crypts.

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Correspondence to D. W. Scheuermann.

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Timmermans, J., Adriaensen, D., Scheuermann, D.W. et al. Appearance and some neurochemical features of nitrergic neurons in the developing quail digestive tract. Histochemistry 101, 365–374 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00268998

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  • Digestive Tract
  • Vasoactive Intestinal Polypeptide
  • Myenteric Plexus
  • Enteric Neuron
  • Muscularis Mucosa