Immunocytochemical double and triple staining techniques were employed on whole mounts of the submucosal plexus from normal Wistar and non-diabetic BB rat jejunum and ileum, to determine the patterns of co-localization of vasoactive intestinal polypeptide-, peptide histidine-isoleucine-, somato statin-, neuropeptide Y-, calcitonin gene-related peptide-, substance P-, and galanin-immunoreactive nerves. Neuropeptide Y immunoreactivity was found in 38% of submucosal plexus neurons, within the same neuronal elements as vasoactive intestinal polypeptide immunoreactivity (39% of submucosal plexus neurons) and peptide histidine-isoleucine immunoreactivity. A small population (1% of submucosal plexus neurons) containing vasoactive intestinal polypeptide- and peptide histide isoleucine-like immunoreactivity without NPY-like immunoreactivity was also observed. A significant population of fibers containing vasoactive intestinal polypeptide and galanin immunoreactivity were observed in the mucosa and submucosa, although no cell bodies were detected which contained both neuropeptides. Galanin-like immunoreactivity was seen in a small (2% of submucosal plexus neurons) population, not co-localized with any of the other neuropeptides examined. All somatostatin-immunoreactive neuronal elements (18% of submucosal plexus neurons) contained calcitonin gene-related peptide immunoreactivity, just over half of which also contained substance P immunoreactivity. An additional 25% of submucosal plexus neurons contained calcitonin gene-related peptide- without somatostatin-like immunoreactivity and 28% of submucosal plexus neurons contained substance P without somatostatin-like immunoreactivity. Some degree of co-localization was seen between calcitonin gene-related peptide- and substance P-like immunoreactivity, however, this could not be directly quantified. These results were consistent in both regions of the small intestine and in both species, and indicate that at least five populations of neurons exist as defined by neuropeptide co-localization in the submucosal plexus of the rat intestine. © 1990.
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