Calbindin (CALB) is well established as immunohistochemical marker for intrinsic primary afferent neurons in the guinea pig gut. Its expression by numerous human enteric neurons has been demonstrated but little is known about particular types of neurons immunoreactive for CALB. Here we investigated small and large intestinal wholemount sets of 26 tumor patients in order to evaluate (1) the proportion of CALB+
neurons in the total neuron population, (2) the colocalization of CALB with calretinin (CALR), somatostatin (SOM) and vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) and (3) the morphology of CALB+
neurons represented a minority of myenteric neurons (small intestine: 31%; large intestine: 25%) and the majority of submucosal neurons (between 72 and 95%). In the submucosa, most CALB+
neurons co-stained for CALR and VIP (between 69 and 80%) or for SOM (between 20 and 3%). In the myenteric plexus, 85% of CALB+
neurons did not co-stain with the other markers investigated. An unequivocal correlation between CALB reactivity and neuronal morphology was found for myenteric type III neurons in the small intestine: uniaxonal neurons with long, slender and branched dendrites were generally positive for CALB. Since also other neurons displayed occasional CALB reactivity, this protein is not suited as an exclusive marker for type III neurons.
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