We investigated the localization of nitric oxide synthase in the pancreas of the dog in comparison to the rat by the methods of immunocytochemistry using antineuronal type nitric oxide synthase serum and histochemistry using NADPH-diaphorase activity. In both species, the most intense staining was observed in neuronal cell bodies and fibers in the pancreas and nitric oxide synthase immunoreactivity was completely colocalized with NADPH-diaphorase activity. However, there were differences of the distribution between the two species. In the dog pancreas, immuno- and NADPH-diaphorase-positive nerve fibers were numerous around pancreatic ducts and moderate around the arteries and the acini but few in the islets. In contrast, in the rat pancreas, immuno- and diaphorase-positive fibers were fewer around the pancreatic ducts and acini and more abundant in the islets. The expression ratio of NADPH-diaphorase in intrapancreatic ganglion cell bodies that were scattered in the interlobular connective tissue was low to moderate (28.1% in the right lobe, 49.5% in the left label in the dog, while the ratio in rat pancreas was very high in both lobes of the pancreas (about 86%). Except for neuronal staining, weak NADPH-diaphorase-positive reactions were detected in the vascular endothelial cells of the pancreas in both species. In rat islet cells, weak neuronal type nitric oxide synthase immunoreactivity was observed; however, in dog islet cells, an immunoreactivity was detected. These results suggest that nitric oxide in the pancreas is derived from vascular endothelium and neuronal tissue in both species and that the neuronal nitrergic regulation of the exocrine and endocrine pancreas is different between the species.
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