Catecholamine- and acetylcholinesterase-containing nerves in human lower respiratory tract

Histochemistry. 1982;76(2):175-88. doi: 10.1007/BF00501920.


The innervation of human lower respiratory tract was studied with special emphasis on airways with sodium-potassium glyoxylic acid (SPG) and acetylcholinesterase (AChE) methods to demonstrate catecholamine-containing and acetylcholinesterase-containing nerve fibers. AChE-method revealed a rich network of cholinesterase positive nerves both inside the bronchial glands where they run around and between the acini, and the airway smooth muscle from secondary bronchi to terminal bronchioli. No AChE-positive fibers were found in connection with the blood vessels or within the epithelium of bronchi or bonchioli. The AChE-positive nerve fibers in bronchial smooth muscle greatly outnumbered those containing catecholamine. The SPG-method revealed the presence of adrenergic nerves from the level of secondary bronchi to that of terminal bronchioli. These nerve fibers were most abundant in bronchial glands, where their amount was equal and distribution similar to those of AChE-containing nerve fibers. Outside the glands adrenergic fibers were constantly seen in connection with the bronchial blood vessels in connective tissues surrounding bronchi. A few nerve fibers were also present in airway smooth muscle from the secondary bronchi to terminal bronchioli.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholinesterase / analysis*
  • Adrenergic Fibers / cytology*
  • Adult
  • Bronchi / innervation
  • Catecholamines / analysis*
  • Cholinergic Fibers / cytology*
  • Fluorescence
  • Glyoxylates
  • Humans
  • Lung / innervation*
  • Middle Aged


  • Catecholamines
  • Glyoxylates
  • Acetylcholinesterase