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SE Bae, BM Corcoran and ED Watson

Little is known about neurogenic regulation of uterine contractility in mares. The present study investigated the distribution of adrenergic and peptidergic nerves in the mare uterus. Samples from the uterine horn, body and cervix were collected from 18 cyclic mares for immunohistochemistry. The uterus was well supplied with adrenergic nerves. A large number of tyrosine hydroxylase- and dopamine beta-hydroxylase-immunoreactive nerve bundles and fibres were present in the myometrium and endometrium in all regions of the uterus and cervix. These adrenergic nerve bundles and fibres travelled parallel to the muscle layers and were often associated with blood vessels. The density of peptidergic nerves was less than that of adrenergic nerves, but the pattern of distribution was similar. Neuropeptide Y-immunoreactive nerve fibres were the most abundant, whereas vasoactive intestinal polypeptide- and calcitonin gene-related peptide-immunoreactive nerve fibres were less frequently seen. Substance P-immunoreactive nerve fibres were the most sparse. Peptidergic nerves were distributed among the smooth muscle layers and near endometrial glands and were often associated with blood vessels in all regions of the uterus. The density of peptidergic nerve fibres was similar in the uterine horn and body but was slightly denser in the cervix. These findings indicate that uterine innervation may have an important role in controlling reproductive functions in mares.