Localisation and activation of the neurokinin 1 receptor in the enteric nervous system of the mouse distal colon

Juan Carlos Pelayo, Nicholas A. Veldhuis, Emily M. Eriksson, Nigel W. Bunnett, Daniel P. Poole

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The substance P neurokinin 1 receptor (NK1R) regulates motility, secretion, inflammation and pain in the intestine. The distribution of the NK1R is a key determinant of the functional effects of substance P in the gut. Information regarding the distribution of NK1R in subtypes of mouse enteric neurons is lacking and is the focus of the present study. NK1R immunoreactivity (NK1R-IR) is examined in whole-mount preparations of the mouse distal colon by indirect immunofluorescence and confocal microscopy. The distribution of NK1R-IR within key functional neuronal subclasses was determined by using established neurochemical markers. NK1R-IR was expressed by a subpopulation of myenteric and submucosal neurons; it was mainly detected in large multipolar myenteric neurons and was colocalized with calcitonin gene-related peptide, neurofilament M, choline acetyltransferase and calretinin. The remaining NK1R- immunoreactive neurons were positive for nitric oxide synthase. NK1R was expressed by most of the submucosal neurons and was exclusively co-expressed with vasoactive intestinal peptide, with no overlap with choline acetyltransferase. Treatment with substance P resulted in the concentration-dependent internalisation of NK1R from the cell surface into endosome-like structures. Myenteric NK1R was mainly expressed by intrinsic primary afferent neurons, with minor expression by descending interneurons and inhibitory motor neurons. Submucosal NK1R was restricted to non-cholinergic secretomotor neurons. These findings highlight key differences in the neuronal distribution of NK1R-IR between the mouse, rat and guinea-pig, with important implications for the functional role of NK1R in regulating intestinal motility and secretion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-332
Number of pages14
JournalCell and Tissue Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2014


  • Enteric nervous system
  • Mouse
  • Neurochemical coding
  • Neurokinin 1 receptor
  • Receptor trafficking
  • Tachykinin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology
  • Cell Biology


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