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ItemThe emergence of neural activity and its role in the development of the enteric nervous systemHao, MM ; Bornstein, JC ; Vanden Berghe, P ; Lomax, AE ; Young, HM ; Foong, JPP (ACADEMIC PRESS INC ELSEVIER SCIENCE, 2013-10-01)The enteric nervous system (ENS) is a vital part of the autonomic nervous system that regulates many gastrointestinal functions, including motility and secretion. All neurons and glia of the ENS arise from neural crest-derived cells that migrate into the gastrointestinal tract during embryonic development. It has been known for many years that a subpopulation of the enteric neural crest-derived cells expresses pan-neuronal markers at early stages of ENS development. Recent studies have demonstrated that some enteric neurons exhibit electrical activity from as early as E11.5 in the mouse, with further maturation of activity during embryonic and postnatal development. This article discusses the maturation of electrophysiological and morphological properties of enteric neurons, the formation of synapses and synaptic activity, and the influence of neural activity on ENS development.
ItemDevelopment of myenteric cholinergic neurons in ChAT-Cre;R26R-YFP MiceHao, MM ; Bornstein, JC ; Young, HM (WILEY, 2013-10-01)Cholinergic neurons are the major excitatory neurons of the enteric nervous system (ENS), and include intrinsic sensory neurons, interneurons, and excitatory motor neurons. Cholinergic neurons have been detected in the embryonic ENS; however, the development of these neurons has been difficult to study as they are difficult to detect prior to birth using conventional immunohistochemistry. In this study we used ChAT-Cre;R26R-YFP mice to examine the development of cholinergic neurons in the gut of embryonic and postnatal mice. Cholinergic (YFP+) neurons were first detected at embryonic day (E)11.5, and the proportion of cholinergic neurons gradually increased during pre- and postnatal development. At birth, myenteric cholinergic neurons comprised less than half of their adult proportions in the small intestine (25% of myenteric neurons were YFP+ at P0 compared to 62% in adults). The earliest cholinergic neurons appear to mainly project anally. Projections into the presumptive circular muscle were first observed at E14.5. A subpopulation of cholinergic neurons coexpress calbindin through embryonic and postnatal development, but only a small proportion coexpressed neuronal nitric oxide synthase. Our study shows that cholinergic neurons in the ENS develop over a protracted period of time.