Capsaicin-sensitive extrinsic afferents are involved in acid-induced activation of distinct myenteric neurons in the rat stomach

R. Schicho, M. Schemann, M. A. Pabst, P. Holzer, I. Th Lippe

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33 Scopus citations


Challenge of the rat gastric mucosa with 0.5 mol L-1 HCl activates nitrergic neurons in the myenteric plexus as visualized by c-Fos immunohistochemistry. In the present study, we characterized the activated neurons more extensively by their chemical coding and investigated whether a neural pathway that involves capsaicin-sensitive extrinsic afferents and/or cholinergic neurons transmitting via nicotinic receptors contributes to the activation of myenteric neurons. In multiple labelling experiments, c-Fos was examined for co-localization with nitric oxide synthase (NOS), vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP), neuropeptide Y (NPY), enkephalin (ENK), gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP), substance P (SP), calbindin D-28k (CALB) and neurofilament 145 (NF 145). All c-Fos-positive neurons were immunoreactive for NOS, VIP, NPY and NF 145, but not for SP, ENK, GRP and CALB. Nerve fibres co-expressing NOS, VIP and NPY were predominantly found in the external muscle layer and in the muscularis mucosae but rarely in the mucosa. Pre-treatment with capsaicin or hexamethonium or a combination of both pre-treatments reduced HCl-induced c-Fos expression by 54, 66 and 63%, respectively. Acid challenge of the stomach, therefore, leads to activation of presumably inhibitory motor neurons responsible for muscle relaxation. Activation of these neurons is partly mediated by capsaicin-sensitive afferents and involves ganglionic transmission via nicotinic receptors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-44
Number of pages12
JournalNeurogastroenterology and Motility
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2003


  • Capsaicin
  • Mucosal acid challenge
  • Multiple labelling
  • Neurochemical coding
  • c-Fos


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