Anatomy and Neuroscience - Research Publications

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    Myenteric neurons of the mouse small intestine undergo significant electrophysiological and morphological changes during postnatal development
    Foong, JPP ; Nguyen, TV ; Furness, JB ; Bornstein, JC ; Young, HM (WILEY, 2012-05-01)
    Organized motility patterns in the gut depend on circuitry within the enteric nervous system (ENS), but little is known about the development of electrophysiological properties and synapses within the ENS. We examined the electrophysiology and morphology of myenteric neurons in the mouse duodenum at three developmental stages: postnatal day (P)0, P10–11, and adult. Like adults, two main classes of neurons could be identified at P0 and P10–11 based on morphology: neurons with multiple long processes that projected circumferentially (Dogiel type II morphology) and neurons with a single long process. However, postnatal Dogiel type II neurons differed in several electrophysiological properties from adult Dogiel type II neurons. P0 and P10–11 Dogiel type II neurons exhibited very prominent Ca(2+)-mediated after depolarizing potentials (ADPs) following action potentials compared to adult neurons. Adult Dogiel type II neurons are characterized by the presence of a prolonged after hyperpolarizing potential (AHP), but AHPs were very rarely observed at P0. The projection lengths of the long processes of Dogiel type II neurons were mature by P10–11. Uniaxonal neurons in adults typically have fast excitatory postsynaptic potentials (fEPSPs, ‘S-type' electrophysiology) mainly mediated by nicotinic receptors. Nicotinic-fEPSPs were also recorded from neurons with a single long process at P0 and P10–11. However, these neurons underwent major developmental changes in morphology, from predominantly filamentous neurites at birth to lamellar dendrites in mature mice. Unlike Dogiel type II neurons, the projection lengths of neurons with a single long process matured after P10–11. Slow EPSPs were rarely observed in P0/P10–11 neurons. This work shows that, although functional synapses are present and two classes of neurons can be distinguished electrophysiologically and morphologically at P0, major changes in electrophysiological properties and morphology occur during the postnatal development of the ENS.
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    The emergence of neural activity and its role in the development of the enteric nervous system
    Hao, 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.
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    Development of myenteric cholinergic neurons in ChAT-Cre;R26R-YFP Mice
    Hao, 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.