Cholinergic, serotoninergic and neuropeptidergic components of the nervous system were examined and compared in the progenetic metacercaria and adult gasterostome trematode, Bucephaloides gracilescens in order to provide baseline information on neuronal control of the musculature involved in egg-assembly. Enzyme cytochemistry and indirect immunocytochemical techniques interfaced with confocal scanning laser microscopy demonstrated all three classes of neuroactive substance throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems. A comparable orthogonal arrangement of the central nervous system (CNS) and peripheral array of nerve plexuses was observed in both metacercaria and adult. Staining patterns for cholinergic and peptidergic substances showed significant overlap, while the serotoninergic system was confined to a separate set of neurons. Immunostaining for FMRFamide-related peptides (FaRPs) was strong in the CNS and peripheral innervation to the attachment apparatus of metacercaria and adult but was only found in the innervation of the ootype in ovigerous adults, implicating FaRPs in neuronal control of the muscle of the female reproductive tract during egg-assembly.
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