Whole mounts of guinea-pig small intestine were used to examine the distribution of neurons with enkephalin-like immunoreactivity and the effects of microsurgical lesions on these neurons. The enkephalin neurons are intrinsic to the intestine. Cell bodies are found in the myenteric ganglia; processes are in the myenteric plexus, circular muscle (including deep muscular plexus) and submucosa, but not in the mucosa. The cell bodies have one prominent process and several short processes, the latter occasionally are seen to give rise in turn to fine, faint processes. The prominent processes provide fibres to the circular muscle and deep muscular plexus beneath and just anal (up to about 2 mm) to the cell bodies. Fibres in the submucous ganglia come from the overlying myenteric plexus. Orally-directed processes (possibly dendrites) of myentric cell bodies provide the varicose fibres in the myentric ganglia. These processes are 3.5-4 mm long. The enkephalin neurons represent a population of enteric neurons, with a distinct distribution and projections, which does not correspond to any of the other populations of enteric neurons that have been studied.
ASJC Scopus subject areas