Expression of the neurokinin type 1 receptor in the human colon

Hikma Boutaghou-Cherid, Christophe Porcher, Martine Liberge, Yvon Jule, Nigel W. Bunnett, Marie Odile Christen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The distribution of the neurokinin type 1 receptor (NK1r) in human intestine, mapped in a few immunohistochemical investigations in the antrum and the duodenum, is comparable to that widely studied in rodents. Importantly, despite pharmacological evidence of their presence in mammalian intestinal muscle, their immunohistochemical visualization in smooth muscle cells remains to be determined in human digestive tract. In the present work, we studied the distribution of NK1r in the human colon, with a particular view to visualize their expression in muscle cells. With this aim, part of colonic segments were incubated with nicardipine and TTX in order to induce accumulation of the NK1r on cell membrane. NK1r were visualized by using immunohistochemistry combined with fluorescence and confocal microscopy. Without incubation, NK1r-IR was clearly observed on the membrane and the cytoplasm of myenteric and submucous neurons and interstitial cells of Cajal, but could not be clearly determined in the longitudinal and circular muscle. NK1r-IR-expressing neurons and interstitial cells were closely surrounded by substance P (SP) immunoreactive nerves. Incubation of colonic segments with nicardipine and TTX at 4°C for 1 h with SP allowed to reveal a strong NK1r-IR at the surface of muscle cells. Incubation with SP (10-6 M) at 37°C for 1 min induced a relocation of NK1r-IR into the cytoplasm of muscle. This is interpreted as an internalization of NK1r induced by the binding of SP on muscular NK1r. The present data contribute to emphasize the role of NK1r in tachykinin-mediated neuronal processes regulating intestinal motility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-17
Number of pages9
JournalAutonomic Neuroscience: Basic and Clinical
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 30 2006


  • Endocytosis
  • Enteric neurons
  • Human colon
  • Interstitial cells of Cajal
  • Intestinal smooth muscle
  • NK1 receptor
  • Substance P
  • Tachykinins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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