Occurrence and developmental pattern of neuromedin U-immunoreactive nerves in the gastrointestinal tract and brain of the rat

Neuroscience. 1988 Jun;25(3):797-816. doi: 10.1016/0306-4522(88)90037-1.


Neuromedin U is a newly described regulatory peptide, found by radioimmunoassay in significant concentrations in both the brain and gut of the rat. The aim of the present study was to localize this peptide immunoreactivity to discrete structures of the gut and brain and to map its distribution using immunocytochemistry. In the gut, neuromedin U was confined to nerve fibres mainly in the myenteric and submucous plexuses and the mucosa of all areas except stomach. Immunoreactive ganglion cells were seen in both ganglionated plexuses and their number did not increase following colchicine administration. This observation and the finding that the population of neuromedin U-immunoreactive nerves in the ileum was not affected by complete extrinsic denervation indicated that the nerves are mostly intrinsic in origin. Colocalization studies revealed neuromedin U and calcitonin gene-related peptide were present in the same myenteric and submucosal ganglion cells. Transection experiments showed that, like calcitonin gene-related peptide-immunoreactive nerves, fibres containing neuromedin U project for very short distances in both an oral and anal direction. At the electron microscopic level, neuromedin U immunoreactivity, demonstrated using the immunogold technique, was localized to large granular vesicles. In the central nervous system, neuromedin U immunoreactivity was localized to fibres which were widespread throughout the brain, except in the cerebellum. The presence of neuromedin U-immunoreactive cell bodies was restricted to the rostrocaudal part of the arcuate nucleus. Colocalization studies showed that a proportion of the neuromedin U-immunoreactive cell bodies in the arcuate nucleus also contained pro-opiomelanocortin. Neuromedin U-immunoreactive fibres were first detected in the rat intestinal mucosa at day 1 after birth. In the brain, the arcuate nucleus showed neuromedin U-immunoreactive neuronal cell bodies at E16 but not at E14. In conclusion, neuromedin U is a new member of the group of molecules known as brain-gut peptides.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Brain / embryology
  • Brain / growth & development
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Digestive System / embryology
  • Digestive System / growth & development
  • Digestive System / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Neuropeptides / metabolism*
  • Neuropeptides / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains


  • Neuropeptides
  • neuromedin U 8
  • neuromedin U 25