Journal of the autonomic nervous system vol:65 issue:1 pages:17-24
Various aspects of the postnatal development of intrapulmonary neuroepithelial bodies (NEB) were quantified in guinea-pigs, rabbits, cats, rats and hamsters. The highest densities of NEB were found at birth, especially in species with very immature neonates. Postnatally this density decreased, most probably by lung expansion and growth. The number of corpuscular cells per NEB generally did not change during postnatal development. Likewise, the volume density of their secretory dense cored vesicles remained unchanged. On the other hand, in most species and especially in those with very immature neonates, the number of intracorpuscular NEB nerve endings increased during postnatal development. At the same time, the number of afferent nerve endings increased at the expense of the efferent ones. We argue that NEB serve a dual function: endocrine and chemoreceptor. The endocrine function, dependent on the number of cells and their content of secretory vesicles, is already well developed at birth and does not mature further. The chemoreceptor function, dependent on the innervation, shows considerable maturation in the postnatal period.