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The topography, architecture and structure of the enteric nervous system in the jejunum and ileum of cattle

  • O. B. BALEMBA (a1), G. K. MBASSA (a1), W. D. SEMUGURUKA (a2), R. J. ASSEY (a1), C. K. B. KAHWA (a1), A. HAY-SCHMIDT (a3) and V. DANTZER (a3)...


To date, there appear to have been no detailed and clear descriptions of the nerve plexuses and their subdivisions in the intestine of cattle. In this study, the enteric nervous system in the jejunum and ileum of 12 1-y-old calves was examined using neurofilament protein and vasoactive intestinal peptide immunohistochemistry in wholemounts and paraffin sections combined with staining of paraffin and historesin sections with haematoxylin and eosin. The main organisation of the plexuses was similar to that of the pig, horse and man with external and internal submucous plexuses being morphologically distinct, with further subdivisions of the internal submucous plexus into the external and internal subplexuses. However, in contrast to pig, horse and man, the submucous layer was firmly attached to the inner circular muscle layer. The myenteric plexus was well developed with large ganglia, and primary and secondary nerve strands. Its main axis was oriented parallel to the outer longitudinal smooth muscle; large ganglia and primary nerve strands fused to form complex ganglia, and 2 types of tertiary nerve strands were observed. Antibodies to neurofilament proteins and vasoactive intestinal peptide revealed adendritic, pseudouniaxonal or multiaxonal type II neurons only in the myenteric and submucous plexuses. This appears to be the first report of the identification of isolated uniaxonal, multidendritic type IV neurons in the mucous pericryptal plexus. The new information presented here provides further evidence for the existence of anatomical and functional differences between the external and internal submucous plexuses and for supporting the nomenclature proposed earlier.


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dr Vet. Sci. Vibeke Dantzer, Institute for Anatomy and Physiology, RVAU, 13 Bülowsvej, 1870 Frederiksberg C, Copenhagen, Denmark. Tel. 4535282543; fax: 4535282547; e-mail:


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