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

Innervation of the guinea pig trachea: a quantitative morphological study of intrinsic neurons and extrinsic nerves.

The innervation of the guinea pig trachea was studied in wholemount preparations stained for acetylcholinesterase, catecholamines, and substance P immunoreactivity and by electron microscopy. The majority of parasympathetic and afferent nerve fibres arrive from the vagus via branches of the recurrent laryngeal nerves. The recurrent laryngeal nerves are composed of several fascicles comprising 600-700 small myelinated fibres (2-5 microns diameter) and about 1,000-2,000 unmyelinated fibres; both components exit from the nerve and project in fine branches to the trachea. A separate component of 200-250 large myelinated fibres (more than 5 microns diameter) runs the full length of the nerve and innervates the striated muscles of the larynx. The recurrent laryngeal nerves are slightly asymmetric in their origin, length, number, and composition of fibres, with the right nerve being shorter but with more numerous and thinner myelinated fibres. At the distal end of the recurrent nerve, a fine branch called the ramus anastomoticus connects it to the superior laryngeal nerve. In the tracheal plexus, there are on average 222 ganglion cells (range 166-327), distributed mostly in small ganglia of 12 or fewer neurons. The ganglionated plexus is situated entirely outside the tracheal wall, overlying the smooth muscle. Ligation experiments show that sympathetic nerve fibres reach the trachea with the recurrent nerves via anastomoses between the sympathetic chain and vagus nerves, or occasionally with recurrent nerves directly, the largest being at the level of the ansa subclavia. There are also perivascular sympathetic nerve plexuses. Substance P immunoreactive fibres enter the trachea from the vagus nerves and by pathways similar to those of sympathetic nerves. There are also paraganglion cells within the recurrent laryngeal nerve that contain catecholamines and are surrounded by substance P immunoreactive fibres. After cervical vagotomy, all the large myelinated fibres of the ipsilateral recurrent laryngeal nerve degenerate and so do all but 10 or 20 small myelinated fibres and all but a few unmyelinated fibres. Degenerating fibres are found within the entire tracheal plexus, indicating bilateral innervation. The small myelinated fibres that survive cervical vagotomy probably represent sympathetic or afferent nerves with their cell bodies located in sympathetic or dorsal root ganglia.[1]


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