Lessons from the porcine enteric nervous system

D. R. Brown, J. P. Timmermans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


The porcine intestinal tract possesses functional and pathological similarities to the human digestive tract and the organization of the porcine enteric nervous system, like that of the human, appears to be more complex than that of commonly investigated guinea-pig intestine. Intrinsic primary afferent neurones appear to differ in the intestines of large and small animals in terms of their chemical coding, distribution over enteric neural networks, electrophysiological behaviour and synaptic properties. Opioid receptors on afferent and motor neurones in the porcine small intestine are predominately of the delta type, whereas those in guinea-pig ileum are mu. Moreover, delta-opioid receptors associated with the myenteric and submucosal plexuses of porcine ileum that, respectively, modulate neurogenic smooth muscle contractions and mucosal ion transport appear to differ in their pharmacological characteristics. These profound interspecies and interregional differences underscore the complexity of the enteric nervous system, and the development of new drugs designed to treat human neurogastrointestinal disorders should be based on the results of investigations in homologous animal models, such as the pig.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-54
Number of pages5
JournalNeurogastroenterology and Motility
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Apr 1 2004


  • Chemical coding
  • Myenteric plexus
  • Opioid receptors
  • Submucosal plexus


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