Structure of the sensory innervation of the anal canal in the pig. A light- and electron-microscopical study

Acta Anat (Basel). 1990;137(3):189-201. doi: 10.1159/000146820.


The sensory innervation of the anal canal of the pig was investigated by light and electron microscopy. The distribution of the different types of sensory nerve endings correlates with the histology of different zones: (1) After the rectal mucosa there was a zone lined with nonkeratinized stratified squamous epithelium. (2) A middle zone was lined with keratinized stratified squamous epithelium. Here the dermis already showed a papillary and reticular layer. (3) The last zone showed hairy skin with a high hair density. The following nerve endings were found: Free nerve endings reached the stratum superficiale in nonkeratinized squamous epithelium and the stratum granulosum in the keratinized squamous epithelium. Dermal free nerve endings were found in all zones near the epithelium and two different types were identified as those derived from C-fibers and those from A-delta-fibers. Merkel nerve endings showed different features depending on their location. Few Merkel-like cells were found in the epithelium of the anal crypts. Typical Merkel Tastscheiben were located at the base of epithelial ridges or pegs in zones 2 and 3. The number of Merkel cells varied up to 200. The myelinated afferent fiber supplied 10-15 Merkel cells. Merkel cells were also found regularly in the outermost layer of the external rooth sheath of hair follicles at about the same level as perifollicular nerve endings. Lamellated corpuscles were found in the dermis of all zones except the cranial part of zone 1, where the anal crypts are located. Generally they consisted of a central nerve terminal which may be branched. Each terminal was surrounded by an inner core of concentrically arranged lamellae of the terminal Schwann cell and one or several inner cores were included in a capsule of perineural cells. The size of the corpuscle, the regularity of the inner core and the number of capsular layers depended on the location of the corpuscle.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Anal Canal / cytology
  • Anal Canal / innervation*
  • Anal Canal / ultrastructure
  • Animals
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Mucous Membrane / cytology
  • Mucous Membrane / ultrastructure
  • Neurons, Afferent / cytology*
  • Neurons, Afferent / ultrastructure
  • Skin / cytology
  • Skin / ultrastructure
  • Swine / anatomy & histology*