Comparative anatomy of the myenteric plexus of the distal colon in eight mammals

Gastroenterology. 1984 Apr;86(4):706-13.


The behavior of the most distal part of the colon in a variety of species suggests that the innervation of this part may differ from that of more proximal parts. Silver impregnation was used to demonstrate the arrangement of the myenteric plexus of the distal colon in eight species (rat, guinea pig, rabbit, Australian possum, American opossum, cat, dog, and monkey). A distal zone, approximately 5%-20% of the total length of the colon above the anal verge in the nonrodents, was characterized by a plexus of very irregularly disposed intersecting nerve bundles of highly variable size with few and small ganglia; this zone was absent in the three rodent species. A next most distal zone, approximately 10%-65% of the total colonic length, contained a stellate plexus of large, regularly disposed ganglia interconnected by small nerve fiber bundles upon which were superimposed large dark-staining nerve bundles; these bundles began to be seen at the level of the irregular rectal plexus and ran cephalad, bypassing some ganglia but giving off branches to others. These, called shunt fascicles, contained many myelinated nerve fibers. Above this zone, the plexus was a stellate plexus throughout the remainder of the colon.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cats / anatomy & histology
  • Colon / anatomy & histology
  • Colon / innervation*
  • Dogs / anatomy & histology
  • Guinea Pigs / anatomy & histology
  • Lumbosacral Plexus / anatomy & histology
  • Macaca fascicularis / anatomy & histology
  • Myenteric Plexus / anatomy & histology*
  • Myenteric Plexus / cytology
  • Opossums / anatomy & histology
  • Rabbits / anatomy & histology
  • Rats / anatomy & histology
  • Species Specificity
  • Stellate Ganglion / anatomy & histology