The present study aimed to characterize the effects of Salmonella Heidelberg challenge, as well as its changes in the inhibitory neuron subpopulation in the myenteric plexus of broilers. At the age of 21 days, after euthanasia of birds, duodenum fragments were collected from 5 male chicken broilers Cobb 500 linage from the challenged group and the control group for the quantification from the subpopulation of myenteric plexus inhibitory neurons by the histochemical method of NADPH-diaphorase. The membrane preparations obtained after neuronal marking were used for quantifying the neurons from micrographs obtained under light microscope, corresponding to 60 microscope fields per animal. Regarding the location of the neurons, they were grouped into those forming ganglia and those isolated between the fibers connecting the neuron groupings. The average number of neurons obtained was 24.38 neurons per mm2 in the control group, and 9.57 neurons per mm2 in the challenged group, with such values presenting statistical variation. This reduction in the number of neurons is perhaps a sign of the deleterious effects of Salmonella Heidelberg on positive NADPH-diaphorase neurons. Such reduction may promote changes in the functional characteristics of the digestive tube, reducing or slowing down the processes of digestion and absorption of nutrients, thereby limiting the animals’ productive performance.
Key words: Gallus gallus, NADPH-diaphorase, inhibitory neurons, enteric nervous system, Salmonella sp.
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