Chronic alcohol consumption affects gastrointestinal motility and reduces the proportion of neuronal NOS-immunoreactive myenteric neurons in the murine jejunum.Anat Rec (Hoboken) 2010; 293(9):1536-42AR
Alcohol consumption interferes with gastrointestinal transit causing symptoms in alcoholic patients. Nitric oxide (NO), synthesized by neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) plays an important role in the control of gastrointestinal motility. Our aim was to investigate whether chronic alcohol intake in a murine model induces gastrointestinal motility disturbances and affects the nitrergic myenteric neurons in the stomach and jejunum. Gastric emptying, small intestinal transit and geometric centre were measured in vivo after intragastric gavage of Evans blue. Nitrergic relaxations to electrical field stimulation (EFS) and exogenous NO were recorded in jejunal muscle strips in vitro. The proportion of nNOS-immunopositive myenteric neurons was assessed using PGP9.5 and nNOS immunostaining. After chronic alcohol consumption, gastric emptying and small intestinal transit were delayed compared with control mice, and the nitrergic nerve-mediated relaxations to EFS in the jejunum were decreased, whereas relaxations to exogenous NO did not differ. The proportion of nNOS-immunoreactive neurons did not change in the stomach, whereas in the jejunum the percentage decreased from 33% to 27% (P < 0.001) after chronic alcohol intake. The total number of myenteric neurons remained unchanged. These results suggest that chronic alcohol consumption disturbs gastric and small intestinal motility in vivo and in vitro and is associated with a decrease in the proportion of nNOS-immunoreactive myenteric neurons in the murine jejunum.