Expression of PGP 9.5 by Enteric Neurons in Horses and Donkeys with and without Intestinal Disease

N. P. H. Hudson*, G. T. Pearson, I. G. Mayhew, C. J. Proudman, F. A. Burden, C. Fintl

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Intestinal motility disorders are an important problem in horses and donkeys and this study was carried out in order to evaluate the enteric neurons in animals with and without intestinal disease. Surplus intestinal tissue samples were collected from 28 horses undergoing exploratory laparotomy for colic. In addition, surplus intestinal samples from 17 control horses were collected immediately following humane destruction for clinical conditions not relating to the intestinal tract. Similar samples were also collected during routine post-mortem examinations from 12 aged donkeys; six animals were humanely destroyed for conditions related to the intestinal tract, while the remaining six were humanely destroyed for other reasons including dental and orthopaedic diseases. Tissue samples were fixed in formalin and immunohistochemical labelling was performed targeting the enteric neurons using a polyclonal antibody specific for the neuronal marker PGP 9.5. The distribution and density of neuronal networks were assessed qualitatively and semiquantitatively. There was strong PGP 9.5 expression in both the horse and donkey samples and labelling was detected throughout the tissue sections. In both species, PGP 9.5-immunoreactive nerve fibres were detected in all layers of the intestinal tract, both in large and small intestinal samples. Networks of enteric neurons were present in the donkey with a similar distribution to that seen in the horse. There was no demonstrable difference in enteric neuronal density and distribution in the groups of animals with intestinal disease compared with those without, apart from two (out of 28) horses with intestinal disease that showed a marked reduction in PGP 9.5 immunoreactivity. Apart from these two animals, this total cohort analysis differs from some previously observed findings in horses with intestinal disease and may therefore reflect the different pathophysiological processes occurring in varying intestinal conditions resulting in colic both in the donkey and the horse.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-233
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Comparative Pathology
Issue number2-3
Early online date26 Nov 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • colic
  • donkey
  • horse
  • neuron


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