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Abstract

European beaver (Castor fiber), the largest rodent species inhabiting a wide area of Eurasia, feeds mainly on dry parts of plants, bark or wood. Such kind of nourishment needs to be properly digested in each part of the gastrointestinal tract. The time of stomach digestion, which directly influences all the following steps of the digestion process, is precisely controlled by the pylorus and its innervation. However, virtually no data is available on the organization of the enteric nervous system in most of the wild animal species, including beavers. On the other hand, a pecu- liar diet consumed by beavers, suggests that the arrangement of their stomach intramural nerve elements can be atypical. Therefore, the present study investigated the distribution and chemical coding of neurons and nerve fibers in the pylorus of the European beaver. The experiment was performed on stomachs obtained from a group of 6 beavers caught in Northeastern region of Poland (due to beaver overpopulation). Pyloric wall tissue cryosections were double immunostained with a mixture of antibodies against pan-neuronal marker PGP 9.5 (to visualize enteric neurons) and ChAT (cholinergic marker), nNOS (nitrergic marker), SP, CGRP, Gal (peptidergic markers). Confocal microscopy analysis revealed that the majority of enteric nerve cells were clustered forming submucosal and myenteric ganglia and all the studied substances were expressed (in various amounts) in these neurons. We conclude, that the anatomical arrangement and chemical coding of intramural nerve elements in the beaver pylorus resemble those found in other mammalian species.
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