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The aim of this study was to find an improved method with which to stain the entire population of myenteric neurons in the different segments of the developing chicken intestine. Histochemical staining with cuprolinic blue (quinolinic phthalocyanine) and immunostaining against neurofilament (NF) were performed on whole mounts prepared from intestinal segments of embryonic (day 19 of incubation) and hatched (1, 2, 4 and 7 days after hatching) chickens. Double labelling was performed to evaluate to what extent the two markers visualise the same nerve cell population. Cuprolinic blue stained neuronal somata highly selectively, whereas processes and glia cells were poorly labelled. The cuprolinic blue-positive neurons were uniform in shape. NF immunostaining revealed a morphologically highly variable neuron population. Double labelling with cuprolinic blue and NF resulted in an intensification of both stainings, allowing an accurate morphological classification of NF-stained myenteric neurons. Data obtained from the counting of cuprolinic blue-positive neurons were subjected to two-way ANOVA and the Tukey probe. The densities of ganglia and neurons were found to decrease, and the mean number of neurons per myenteric ganglion to increase, with different dynamics along the longitudinal axis of the gut during the examined time span. The variances in the number of NF-positive neurons were not homogeneous, and the data were therefore not suitable for ANOVA. Accordingly, only semiquantitative conclusions could be drawn.

Original publication




Journal article


Histochem Cell Biol

Publication Date





241 - 246


Animals, Cell Count, Chick Embryo, Chickens, Colon, Female, Ganglia, Histocytochemistry, Immunohistochemistry, Indoles, Intestine, Small, Male, Myenteric Plexus, Neurofilament Proteins, Neurons, Organometallic Compounds, Time Factors