Distribution and origin of extrinsic nerve fibers containing calcitonin gene-related peptide, substance P and galanin in the rat upper rectum

Neurosci Res. 1992 Oct;15(1-2):64-73. doi: 10.1016/0168-0102(92)90018-8.


The distributions of nerve fibers containing calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), substance P (SP) and galanin (GAL) were examined in the rat rectum of mutants rats, aganglionic rats (AGRs), which completely lack the intramural nerve cells in the large intestine, and of their normal littermates. The origin of extrinsic peptide-containing nerve fibers was examined using retrograde tracing combined with immunohistochemistry in normal rats. In the rectum of normal rats, CGRP-, SP- and GAL-immunoreactive varicose fibers were observed throughout all layers of the rectal wall, and immunoreactive nerve cells were present in the enteric ganglia of colchicine-treated rats. In the aganglionic rectum of AGR, a rich supply of CGRP-immunoreactive fibers was observed in the mucosa, around the blood vessels, and in the submucous and intermuscular spaces. SP- and GAL-immunoreactive fibers in the aganglionic rectum showed a similar distribution to CGRP-immunoreactive fibers but were less dense. These results suggest that most of CGRP-positive fibers in the rectum are extrinsic whereas a large part of SP- or GAL-positive fibers are intrinsic. Fluoro-gold injected into the upper rectum of normal rat labelled nerve cells (less than 10% of total ganglion cells) in the lumbar (L1 and L2) and lumbosacral (L6 and S1) dorsal root ganglia. More than half of nerve cells in the dorsal root ganglia (L6 and S1) projecting to the rectum were immunoreactive for CGRP, and less than 10% were immunoreactive for SP or GAL. Comparison of serial sections of the dorsal root ganglion revealed that about half of the CGRP-immunoreactive cells were also positive for SP or GAL. These results indicate that SP- or GAL-positive neurons projecting to the rectum are scarce in the dorsal root ganglia. The present investigation suggests that CGRP-containing nerves are visceral afferents forming a major component of the sensory innervation of the rat rectum, and SP- and GAL-containing nerves which share their extrinsic origins appear to form a lesser proportion of the sensory innervation.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide / metabolism*
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Galanin
  • Ganglia, Spinal / cytology
  • Ganglia, Spinal / physiology
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Nerve Fibers / metabolism
  • Nerve Fibers / physiology*
  • Peptides / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Rectum / innervation*
  • Rectum / metabolism
  • Stilbamidines*
  • Substance P / metabolism*


  • 2-hydroxy-4,4'-diamidinostilbene, methanesulfonate salt
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Peptides
  • Stilbamidines
  • Substance P
  • Galanin
  • Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide