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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

NANC nerves in the respiratory air sac and branchial vasculature of the Indian catfish, Heteropneustes fossilis.

Gill and air sac of the Indian catfish Heteropneustes fossilis harbour a nerve network comprising an innervated system of neuroepithelial endocrine cells; the latter cells are found especially in the gill. A series of antibodies was used for the immunohistochemical detection of neurotransmitters of the neural non-adrenergic, non-cholinergic (NANC) systems such as the sensory neuropeptides (enkephalins), the inhibitory neuropeptide VIP and neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) responsible for nitric oxide (NO) production which is an inhibitory NANC neurotransmitter. NADPH-diaphorase (NADPH-d) histochemistry was used as marker of nNOS although it is not a specific indicator of constitutively-expressed NOS in gill and air sac tissues. A tyrosine hydroxylase antibody was used to investigate adrenergic innervation. Nitrergic and VIP-positive sensory innervation was found to be shared by gill and air sac. Immunohistochemistry revealed the presence of enkephalins, VIP, NOS and NADPH-d in nerves associated with branchial and air sac vasculature, and in the neuroendocrine cell systems of the gill. Adrenergic nerve fibers were found in some parts of the air sac vasculature. The origin of the nerve fibers remains unclear despite previous findings showing the presence of both NADPH-d and nNOS in the sensory system of the glossopharyngeal and vagus nerves including the branchial structure. Scarce faintly stained nNOS-positive neurons were located in the gill but were never detected in the air sac. These findings lead to the conclusion that a postganglionic innervation of the airways is absent. Mucous goblet cells in the gill were found to express nNOS and those located in the non-respiratory interlamellar areas of the air sac were densely innervated by nNOS-positive and VIP-positive nerve fibers. Our immunohistochemical studies demonstrate that most arteries of the gill and air sac share a NANC (basically nitrergic) innervation which strongly suggests that they are homologous structures.[1]


  1. NANC nerves in the respiratory air sac and branchial vasculature of the Indian catfish, Heteropneustes fossilis. Zaccone, G., Ainis, L., Mauceri, A., Lo Cascio, P., Lo Giudice, F., Fasulo, S. Acta Histochem. (2003) [Pubmed]
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