ATP as a putative sensory mediator: activation of intrinsic sensory neurons of the myenteric plexus via P2X receptors.
Most fast excitatory postsynaptic potentials (fEPSPs) recorded from guinea pig ileum myenteric plexus are mediated by acetylcholine acting at nicotinic receptors and ATP acting at P2X receptors. These studies examine length and polarity of projection of neurons releasing mediators of fEPSPs. Under ketamine-xylazine anesthesia, animals were sham treated or myenteric pathways were interrupted. After severed axons degenerated, fEPSPs were recorded at the operated site using conventional, intracellular electrophysiological methods and were classified as nicotinic or mixed on the basis of sensitivity to hexamethonium. Cholinergic and noncholinergic fEPSPs were recorded from small, operated segments, suggesting that some neurons have projections between adjacent ganglia. The mean amplitudes of nicotinic and mixed fEPSPs were reduced after circumferential and descending pathways degenerated. The proportion of nicotinic vs. mixed fEPSPs recorded from tissues lacking descending projections was greater than that recorded from sham-treated tissues, suggesting that fibers releasing noncholinergic mediators project aborally. Descending projections communicate with neurons in ganglia at least three rows aboral to their origin. The data suggest that fast noncholinergic neurotransmission could contribute to hexamethonium-resistant descending inhibition during the peristaltic reflex.