Compression and stretch sensitive submucosal neurons of the porcine and human colon
The pig is commonly believed to be a relevant model for human gut functions-however, there are only a few comparative studies and none on neural control mechanisms. To address this lack we identified as one central aspect mechanosensitive enteric neurons (MEN) in porcine and human colon. We used neuroimaging techniques to record responses to tensile or compressive forces in submucous neurons. Compression and stretch caused Ca-transients and immediate spike discharge in 5-11% of porcine and 15-24% of human enteric neurons. The majority of these MEN exclusively responded to either stimulus quality but about 9% responded to both. Most of the MEN expressed choline acetyltransferase and substance P; nitric oxide synthase-positive MEN primarily occurred in distal colon. The findings reveal common features of MEN in human and pig colon which we interpret as a result of species-independent evolutionary conservation rather than a specific functional proximity between the two species.