The pulmonary neuroepithelial endocrine system in the quail, **Coturnix coturnix** : light- and electron-microscopical immunocytochemistry and morphology
Groodt-Lasseel, de, M.H.A.
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences . Biomedical Sciences
The anatomical record. - Philadelphia, Pa, 1906 - 2002
, p. 65-74
University of Antwerp
Despite extensive knowledge of the neuroepithelial endocrine (NEE) system in the lungs of species of various vertebrate classes, data on avians are limited. The present investigation deals with the light- and electron-microscopical immunocytochemistry and morphology of pulmonary NEE cells in the quail, Coturnix coturnix. Light-microscopically, serotonin immunoreactivity was detected in numerous solitary and clustered NEE cells located in the cilio-mucous epithelium of primary and secondary bronchi in adult as well as in newly hatched quails. Only in newly hatched quails could a small number of bombesin- and somatostatin-like immunoreactive NEE cells be demonstrated. Electron-microscopical morphology revealed that NEE cells contained dense-cored vesicles of a wide range of diameters and electron densities. Nearly all of the NEE cells were seen to rest on the basement membrane of the cilio-mucous epithelium, lacking direct contact with the luminal surface. Nerve varicosities or nerve endings, of both afferent and efferent morphological appearance, were found directly apposed to the basal portion of NEE cells, invaginating between NEE cells or between NEE cells and adjacent epithelial cells. Often, synaptic specializations could be recognized between NEE cells and nerve terminals. Electron-microscopical immunocytochemistry confirmed that the intraepithelial serotonin-containing cells correspond to the cells with NEE characteristics. Moreover, two types of NEE cells could be distinguished in newly hatched quail lungs. Both types showed serotonin immunoreactivity selectively distributed over the dense-cored vesicles, but somatostatin- and bombesin-like immunoreactivities were only noted in one of the NEE cell types and were never seen colocalized. Thus, the avian NEE system too, harbors at least three different bioactive substances and has a morphology comparable to that of mammals, reptiles and amphibians. (C) 1994 Wiley-Liss, Inc.