Inhibitory innervation of the guinea-pig urethra; roles of CO, NO and VIP

Viktoria Werkström, Per Alm, Katarina Persson, Karl-Erik Andersson

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The inhibitory innervation of guinea-pig urethral smooth muscle was investigated histochemically and functionally. The distribution of immunoreactivities to haem oxygenases (HO), neuronal NO synthase (nNOS), and vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) was studied, and the functional effects of the corresponding putative transmitters, CO, NO, and VIP, were assessed. HO-2 immunoreactivity was found in all nerve cell bodies of intramural ganglia, localized between smooth muscle bundles in the detrusor, bladder base and proximal urethra. About 70% of the ganglionic cell bodies were also NOS-immunoreactive (IR), whereas a minor part was VIP-IR. Some ganglion cells exhibiting tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) activity were demonstrated. Rich numbers of NOS-IR varicose nerve terminals could be found innervating the smooth muscle of the urethra, whereas VIP-IR terminals were less numerous. A rich number of TH-IR terminals were observed. The bladder showed a similar distribution of nerves, although only a few number of TH-IR nerves could be found. In bladder preparations exposed to sodium nitroprusside, cGMP-IR cells could be seen, forming an interconnecting network with long spindle-shaped processes. The cGMP-IR cells were especially abundant in the outer smooth muscle layers of the bladder, but less numerous in the urethra. In urethral strip preparations, electrical field stimulation evoked long-lasting frequency-dependent relaxations. The relaxations were not inhibited by the NO-synthesis inhibitor, L-NOARG, or enhanced by the NO-precursor, L-arginine. The haem precursor, 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA), or the inhibitor of guanylate cyclase, ODQ, did not affect the urethral relaxations. Exogenously applied NO, SIN-1, and VIP relaxed the preparations by approximately 50%, whereas the relaxation evoked by exogenous CO was minor. These results suggest that CO probably is not involved in non-adrenergic, non-cholinergic inhibitory control of the guinea-pig urethra, where a non-NO/cGMP mediated relaxation seems to be predominant.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-42
JournalJournal of the Autonomic Nervous System
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1998

Bibliographical note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015.
The record was previously connected to the following departments: Division of Clinical Chemistry and Pharmacology (013250300), Pathology, (Lund) (013030000)

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Cancer and Oncology
  • Pharmacology and Toxicology
  • Medicinal Chemistry

Free keywords

  • Carbon monoxide
  • Cyclic GMP
  • Haem oxygenase
  • Neurotransmission
  • Non-adrenergic non-cholinergic
  • Nitric oxide
  • Smooth muscle
  • Vasoactive intestinal polypeptide


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