The present study investigated the distribution and chemical properties of nerve cell bodies within the trunk of the vagus nerve in juvenile female pigs (n=4) using double-labelling immunofluorescence. The neurons appeared mostly as single cells or formed streaks of cells or small ganglia. Many of the perikarya were cholinergic (VAChT-positive; VAChT+) or adrenergic (DβH+) in nature and no SP+ or CGRP+ neurons were encountered. There were no distinct left-right differences regarding the number and chemical coding of the neuronal somata, however, these characteristics significantly varied between particular nerve segments investigated. The vagosympathetic trunks, and thoracic and abdominal segments of the vagus nerve contained on average (the numerical values represent the means for both the left and right corresponding nerve segments) 142, 236, and 111 PGP 9.5-positive neurons, respectively. Proportions of cholinergic and adrenergic neurons were as follows: 0% and 100%, 54.2% and 33.2%, and 52.8% and 35.4%, respectively. Relatively many neurons in the thoracic and abdominal segments stained also for NOS (39.2% and 39.9%, respectively). It remains to be determined whether the porcine intravagal neurons represent a developmental relic, or whether they have any specific functional significance.
immunohistochemistry; intravagal neurons; neurotransmitter markers; pig; vagus nerve.