Cholinergic and noncholinergic innervation of the smooth muscle layers in the bovine abomasum

Helga Pfannkuche, Dania Reiche, Susanne Hoppe, Michael Schemann

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14 Scopus citations


The intrinsic innervation of muscle layers in the mammalian gastrointestinal tract has been mainly studied in nonruminants. The aim of this study was to identify intrinsic motor neurones in the bovine abomasum that innervate the circular and longitudinal muscles. Circular (CMN) and longitudinal muscle motor neurones (LMN) were selectively labeled by application of the retrograde tracer 1,1′-didodecyl-3,3,3′,3′-tetramethyl indocarbocyanine perchlorate (DiI) onto the muscle layers. The transmitter phenotype was determined by immunohistochemical detection of choline acetyltransferase (ChAT), nitric oxide synthase (NOS), and neurone-specific enolase (NSE). On average, the myenteric ganglia contained 61 ± 19 NSE-positive cell bodies, of which 89% were ChAT-positive and 10% were NOS-positive. Only 0.7% of NSE-positive neurones (41 of 5,777) contained both ChAT and NOS. Application of DiI onto the circular and longitudinal muscles revealed on average 60 ± 27 (n = 4) and 68 ± 36 (n = 4), respectively, labeled cell bodies in the myenteric plexus. For the circular and longitudinal muscles the proportions of ascending to descending neurones were 76: 24% and 54: 46%, respectively. While most ascending CMN were ChAT-positive (96%), 51% of the descending CMN were ChAT-negative. All ascending and 95% of descending LMN were ChAT-positive. It was concluded that cholinergic excitatory innervation is predominant in both muscle layers of the abomasum. Whereas the circular muscle receives cholinergic excitatory and nitrergic inhibitory innervation, the longitudinal muscle is only innervated by cholinergic pathways. This innervation pattern is different from that in gastric muscle layers in monogastric animals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-77
Number of pages8
JournalThe Anatomical Record
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 May 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Abomasum
  • Choline acetyltransferase
  • DiI tracing
  • Enteric nervous system
  • Myenteric plexus
  • Nitric oxide synthase
  • Ruminants


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