The anatomy and developmental dynamics of the nerve net in the body column of Hydra viridissima were examined immunocytochemically with a monoclonal antibody (CC04) that recognizes an antigen in nerve cells and with an antiserum against vasopressin. CC04(+) neuron cell bodies, their neurites, and vasopressin-like-immunoreactive (VLI(+)) neurites could be clearly visualized on whole-mount preparations. All neurites of the CC04(+) neurons in the body column were VLI(+). However, only half of the VLI(+) neurites in the body column were CC04(+). Immunocytochemical analysis of macerated preparations showed that half of the neurons in the gastric region of the body column were CC04(+). These results suggest that most of the neurons in the gastric region are VLI(+). The density of the VLI(+) neurites was uniform along the entire length of the body column. The CC04(+) neuron density in the gastric region remained constant at all stages of asexual development and during foot regeneration. After pulse-labeling with 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine (BrdU), CC04(+) neurons with labeled nuclei appeared in the body column. We conclude that neuron density in the gastric region is maintained at a constant value by insertion of new neurons in parallel with continuous epithelial cell division. (C) 1996 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
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