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, 174 (1), 15-26

Mucosal Nerves and Smooth Muscle Relationships With Gastric Glands of the Opossum: An Ultrastructural and Three-Dimensional Reconstruction Study

Mucosal Nerves and Smooth Muscle Relationships With Gastric Glands of the Opossum: An Ultrastructural and Three-Dimensional Reconstruction Study

L L Seelig Jr et al. Am J Anat.

Abstract

The precise anatomical relation by which autonomic nerve endings contact gastric epithelial cells to enhance the rate of gastric secretions is not fully understood. The aim of the present study was to clarify this issue by using the technique of serial section reconstruction of areas of the gastric mucosa. The work also explored the possibility of a functional role for a system of smooth muscle strands in the gastric mucosa that emanate from the muscularis mucosa, run in the lamina propria, and are associated in a unique manner with the gastric glands. Electron microscopic serial sections of the gastric mucosa were performed to visualize the entire limiting membrane of gastric epithelial cells to determine any nerve associations (especially varicose endings) with these cells. Evaluation of serial sections of five separate parietal cells showed that their basal membrane did not come in close contact (nearest distance 500 nm) with any nerve axon or varicosity. Moreover, the axons passing in the area of these cells ultimately showed varicose endings associated with smooth muscle cells in the adjacent connective tissue (often separated by only 20 nm), with mast cells or with vascular elements. Additionally, the lateral membrane of these five parietal cells did not contact any endocrine cell in the epithelium, although other parietal cells in the area were adjacent to endocrine cells. Chief cells in the immediate area also did not form any close associations with nerve varicosities. Random analysis of 5,000 additional epithelial cells in these sections showed no close associations to nerve elements with significant accumulations of neurosecretory vesicles (varicosities). Because of the observed existence of innervation to the smooth muscle strands in the area of the gastric glands, serial 1-micron epoxy sections of the gastric mucosa were prepared, and profiles of smooth muscle and gastric glands were entered into a computer-assisted reconstruction system. Three-dimensional reconstruction techniques were employed to reveal the existence of a unique association between the mucosal smooth muscle strands and the gastric glands. The muscle strands arose from the muscularis mucosa at regular intervals and became branched to form an intricate wrap around a series of gastric glands that empty into one gastric pit.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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