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NADPH-diaphorase and NOS enzymatic activities in some neurons of reptilian gut and their relationships with two neuropeptides

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 The distribution of neurons containing the enzymes NADPH-diaphorase (NADPH-d) and nitric oxide synthase (NOS) has been studied in the gastrointestinal tract of lizard (Podarcis s. sicula) and snake (Thamnophis sirtalis). The techniques employed were the NADPH-d/nitroblue tetrazolium histochemical method, and the indirect immunofluorescence applied to cryostat sections and to whole-mount preparations. The colocalization of NADPH-d with NOS, with vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) and with galanin (Gal) was also studied, and a Western blot analysis using an antibody directed against mammalian Gal was performed on lizard stomach extracts. NADPH-d positive nerve cell bodies and fibres were found in the myenteric and submucous plexuses throughout the gastrointestinal tract of both reptiles. These nerve structures were also present in the other intramural nerve plexuses, although in smaller quantities. Both in lizard and snake, the stomach revealed a positive nerve population that was more dense than elsewhere in the gut. The population of the NADPH-d-positive neurons observed in the lizard was larger than that observed in the snake. The distribution of both populations was similar to those that have been described in the gut of several mammalian and non-mammalian vertebrates. Both in lizard and snake, a one-to-one correspondence was noted between NOS- and NADPH-d-containing nerve cell bodies, and the nitrergic neurons containing Gal appeared to be more numerous than those containing VIP. Western blot analysis recognised a single band with a molecular weight (3.4 kDa) very similar to that of porcine Gal. It is hypothesised that at least some of the nitrergic neurons of the lizard and snake gut are inhibitory motor neurons innervating the circular smooth musculature. In addition, the colocalization of NOS and VIP in neurons enhances their inhibitory action. The role of the neurons containing both NOS and Gal remains unknown.

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Accepted: 18 September 1998

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Lamanna, C., Costagliola, A., Vittoria, A. et al. NADPH-diaphorase and NOS enzymatic activities in some neurons of reptilian gut and their relationships with two neuropeptides. Anat Embryol 199, 397–405 (1999).

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  • Key words Reptiles
  • Gastrointestinal tract
  • Nitric oxide
  • VIP
  • Galanin