Lung innervation has been studied in the past by methylene blue staining and silver impregnation and more recently by histochemical methods. These techniques give only a partial picture of the total innervation. We have delineated the innervation of the lung in man and three other mammalian species by immunostaining with antibodies to two new markers of nervous tissue. These markers are neurone-specific enolase (NSE), an enzyme present in nerve cells in both the central and the peripheral nervous systems, and S-100, a protein found in glial cells. Throughout the respiratory tract NSE was localised in ganglion cells and nerve fibres in all species examined, while S-100 was found in the supporting glial cells of ganglia and in Schwann cells of peripheral nerves. The distribution of NSE immunoreactivity in serial sections was compared with that of acetylcholinesterase-containing, noradrenergic, and peptide-containing nerves. In all areas NSE was found to be a specific marker for all three types of nerves. Thus these two antibodies provide an effective histological means of examining both the neuronal and the non-neuronal components of the lung innervation and should be of value in investigating this system in lung disease.
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