Aims/background: The innervation pattern of the guinea-pig liver is similar to that of the human liver. However, many aspects of the distribution of the neuronal isoform of the enzyme nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) in the guinea-pig liver and its colocalization with neuropeptides remain to be elucidated.
Methods: The distribution of nNOS was studied in fixed guinea-pig liver by light microscopic immunohistochemistry. Confocal analysis was used to determine its colocalization with neuropeptide Y (NPY) or calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP).
Results: nNOS-immunoreactive (nNOS-IR) nerves were observed in relation to hilar and interlobar vessels and in Glisson's capsule. A few nNOS-IR ganglia were observed in the extrahepatic bile duct and close to the interlobar portal triads. In addition, nNOS-IR fibers were located in the interlobular portal triads and pervading the parenchyma. Moreover, nNOS-IR nerves were demonstrated for the first time in the larger central veins and in the hepatic vein. nNOS-NPY and nNOS-CGRP colocalizations were detected in the fibromuscular layer of the bile duct and periductal plexus, respectively.
Conclusions: These results support the phylogenetic conservation of the nNOS-IR hepatic innervation and its possible contribution to the regulation of hepatic blood flow and certain hepatic functions.