Background/Purpose: Nitric oxide (NO) has been considered one of the putative neurotransmitters of nonadrenergic, noncholinergic inhibitory neurons. To examine the effect of transplantation on NO neurons in the intestine, the distribution of NO neurons was examined and compared with that of peptide-containing neurons. Methods: A jejunal graft measuring about 20 cm was harvested from a Lewis rat, syngeneically transplanted as a Thiry-Vella loop, and later was replaced to the recipient small bowel 20 days after transplantation. Tissue specimens of the grafts were taken on days 1, 3, 6, 10, and 20, and 1 year after transplantation (n = 5 each). The distribution of the neurons was examined immunohistochemically, using antisera against protein gene product 9.5 (PGP 9.5, general neuronal marker), brain nitric oxide synthase (bNOS), vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP), and substance R In addition, NADPH diaphorase staining also was performed to visualize NO neurons. Results: In the PGP 9.5 immunoreactivities, no significant difference in the distribution was observed among the controls and on any day after transplantation. However, the NADPHd activities markedly decreased in muscle layers, especially in the deep muscular layer on day 1 and 3, but quickly recovered by day 6. The distribution of bNOS immunoreactivities was almost same as that of NADPHd staining. The VIP and substance P immunoreactivities also decreased on day 1, and thereafter gradually recovered, and then became normal on day 20. Conclusions: Both the NO and peptidergic neurons markedly decreased just after transplantation, and the NO neurons recovered faster than the peptidergic neurons. These findings suggested that NO neurons might play an important role in the adaptation process of the graft in the early period after transplantation.
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