Nutrient signals sensed by enteroendocrine cells are conveyed to the enteric nervous system (ENS) to initiate intestinal reflexes. We addressed whether there are specific enteric pathways dedicated to detecting different luminal nutrients. Calcium imaging was performed on intact jejunal preparations from Wnt1-cre;R26R-GCaMP3 and Villin-cre;R26R-GCaMP3 mice which express a fluorescent calcium indicator in their ENS or intestinal epithelium, respectively. Glucose, acetate, and L-phenylalanine were perfused onto the mucosa whilst imaging underlying enteric neurons. Nutrient transport or diffusion across the mucosa was mimicked by applying nutrients onto sensory nerve endings in a villus, or onto myenteric ganglia. The nutrients perfused onto the mucosa each elicited Ca2+ transients in submucosal neurons and in distinct patterns of myenteric neurons. Notably, the neurochemical subtypes of myenteric neurons that responded differed between the nutrients, while submucosal responders were predominantly cholinergic. Nutrients applied into villi or onto ganglia did not elicit specific neuronal responses but did stimulate Ca2+ signaling in the mucosal epithelium. These data suggest that nutrients are first detected at the level of the epithelium and that the ENS is capable of discriminating between different compositions of luminal content. Furthermore, our data show that responses to mucosal stimulation are primarily in the myenteric plexus and submucosal neurons respond secondarily.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience