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Tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactivity is common in the enteric nervous system in teleosts

Journal article
Authors Catharina Olsson
Published in Cell and Tissue Research
Volume 364
Issue 2
Pages 231-243
ISSN 0302-766X
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Pages 231-243
Language en
Subject categories Cell Biology, Animal physiology


Tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) is the rate-limiting enzyme in the synthesis of catecholamines and TH immunoreactivity is indicative of cells synthesising either adrenaline/noradrenaline or dopamine. In this study, the distribution of TH immunoreactivity was examined in two distantly related teleost species, zebrafish (Danio rerio) and shorthorn sculpin (Myoxocephalus scorpius). In both species, TH-immunoreactive nerve cell bodies and varicose nerve fibres were common in the myenteric plexus of the intestine. However, no TH-immunoreactive nerve cell bodies were seen in the sculpin stomach. The TH-immunoreactive nerve cell bodies seemed to constitute a larger proportion of the total enteric population in shorthorn sculpin (50 ± 5 %, n = 3067 cells) compared with zebrafish (14 ± 2 %, n = 10,163 cells). In contrast, in sculpin, the TH-immunoreactive cells were smaller than the average enteric nerve cell bodies, whereas in zebrafish, the relationship was the opposite. In developing zebrafish larvae, TH-immunoreactive nerve cell bodies were common (approx. 75 % of the total population) at 3 days post-fertilization (dpf), but decreased in numbers between 3 and 7 dpf. In conclusion, in contrast to previous studies, TH-immunoreactive intrinsic neurons are common in the fish gut. Their role and function need to be further characterized in order to understand the potential importance of this enteric subpopulation in controlling various gut functions.

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