Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Summary Neurofilaments, part of the cytoskeletal network, and neuron specific enolase, a major enzyme in glycolysis, are both present in central and peripheral neurons. Glial fibrillary acidic protein and S-100, on the other hand, are soluble proteins which are found exclusively in the supportive cells of the nervous system, i.e. the glial cells. Examination was made, using immunocytochemistry, of all main areas of the gastrointestinal tract of three mammalian species, rat, pig and man. By applying serial tissue sectioning, it was possible to study the relative occurrences of the two neuronal markers in the same cell bodies and to examine the relationships of the neurons with the glial cells as revealed by the antibodies to glial fibrillary acidic protein and S-100. Both neurofilaments and neuron specific enolase were localised to an extensive system of enteric nerves, with the level of neuron specific enolase-immunoreactivity showing greater variability than that observed using antibodies to neurofilaments. Comparison of the occurrence of neuron specific enolase and neurofilament immunoreactivity in serially sectioned neuronal cell bodies revealed that a minor population stained only with antibodies to neurofilaments. The equivocal or absent neuron specific enolase-immunoreactivity in some perikarya may reflect variations in functional status within the nervous system. Glial fibrillary acidic protein- and S-100-immunoreactivities were confined to glial cells which, in this normal tissue, were always in close association with the neurons. In conclusion, neurofilament-, glial fibrillary acidic protein-and S-100-immunostaining can be used to reveal the enteric nervous system and its supportive cells in these three mammals. The combined use of all these neuronal and non-neuronal markers may be helpful in delineating the enteric nervous system and assessing its morphological and functional status.
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