Quantification of CGRP-immunoreactive myenteric neurons in mouse colon

J Comp Neurol. 2022 Dec;530(18):3209-3225. doi: 10.1002/cne.25403. Epub 2022 Aug 31.


Quantitative data of biological systems provide valuable baseline information for understanding pathology, experimental perturbations, and computational modeling. In mouse colon, calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) is expressed by myenteric neurons with multiaxonal (Dogiel type II) morphology, characteristic of intrinsic primary afferent neurons (IPANs). Analogous neurons in other species and gut regions represent 5-35% of myenteric neurons. We aimed to quantify proportions of CGRP-immunopositive (CGRP+) myenteric neurons. Colchicine-treated wholemount preparations of proximal, mid, and distal colon were labeled for HuC/D, CGRP, nitric oxide synthase (NOS), and peripherin (Per). The pan-neuronal markers (Hu+/Per+) co-labeled 94% of neurons. Hu+/Per- neurons comprised ∼6%, but Hu-/Per+ cells were rare. Thus, quantification was based on Hu+ myenteric neurons (8576 total; 1225 ± 239 per animal, n = 7). CGRP+ cell bodies were significantly larger than the average of all Hu+ neurons (329 ± 13 vs. 261 ± 12 μm2 , p < .0001). CGRP+ neurons comprised 19% ± 3% of myenteric neurons without significant regional variation. NOS+ neurons comprised 42% ± 2% of myenteric neurons overall, representing a lower proportion in proximal colon, compared to mid and distal colon (38% ± 2%, 44% ± 2%, and 44% ± 3%, respectively). Peripherin immunolabeling revealed cell body and axonal morphology in some myenteric neurons. Whether all CGRP+ neurons were multiaxonal could not be addressed using peripherin immunolabeling. However, of 118 putatively multiaxonal neurons first identified based on peripherin immunoreactivity, all were CGRP+ (n = 4). In conclusion, CGRP+ myenteric neurons in mouse colon were comprehensively quantified, occurring within a range expected of a putative IPAN marker. All Per+ multiaxonal neurons, characteristic of Dogiel type II/IPAN morphology, were CGRP+.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide* / metabolism
  • Colchicine / metabolism
  • Colon
  • Mice
  • Myenteric Plexus*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / metabolism
  • Peripherins / metabolism


  • Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide
  • Peripherins
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase
  • Colchicine