Investigations of the nerves of the rabbit lung, by light and electron microscopy, showed a dense acetylcholinesterase-positive innervation of the bronchi through the bronchiolar level. Large nerve bundles were found to decrease in size as they progressed from extrachondral to subchondral connective tissue, forming complex networks of mostly terminal fibres in the muscle layer. In several instances single fibres penetrated the submucosal layer and approached the mucosa. Gangliocytes, which also reacted positively for cholinesterase, were visible in the vicinity of the large peribronchial bundles. Gangliocytes rarely were seen in association with the vasculature. Blood vessels received a much less dense cholinesterase-positive nerve supply than the bronchi. Single, non-terminal fibres were noted at the adventitiomedial junction of the pulmonary artery and vein. In addition, segments of nerve fibres (networks) were observed in the arterial and venous smooth muscle layers. Cholinesterase-positive innervation was even less extensive in the veins than in the arteries.
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