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Possible role of the myelinated neural network in the parietal peritoneum in rats as a mechanoreceptor

Tanaka, K;Kuwahara-Otani, S;Maeda, S;Minato, Y;Yagi, H;

A network of myelinated nerve fibers in the peritoneum covers the abdominal wall. We studied the topographic distribution of this network, explored the fibers’ destination in the central nervous system, and examined the markers in these fibers in order to identify the nature of the sensation conveyed by the network of nerve fibers in rats. We used Sihler’s method, which stains myelinated fibers in whole mount materials, and observed a dense nerve network and endings toward the peritoneal cavity in the peritoneum that covers the abdomen’s lateral bulge. We studied the axonal transport of cholera toxin subunit B to investigate the central projections of this network in order to identify its function. After applying the tracer in the peritoneum, we observed many labeled terminals in the medial part of laminae 3-5 of the spinal cord. A small number of labeled terminals was observed in the dorsal nucleus of Clarke and gracile nucleus. Labeled somata were observed in the dorsal root ganglia. Most (96%) were larger than 35 m. We performed immunohistochemistry of the abdominal wall, using antiserum against the 200-kD neurofilament (a marker for mechanosensory neurons). We observed many positive nerve fibers in the peritoneum. Because cell bodies in the dorsal root ganglia were large, their nerve terminals ended in the base of the dorsal horn, which is known to transmit proprioceptive information, and the network possesses the marker for mechanosensitive fibers; therefore, it appears that the myelinated nerve network conveys information about distension and/or contraction of the abdominal wall. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.