• enteric nervous system;
  • pelvic plexus;
  • nerve of Remak;
  • sacral neural crest;
  • Hirschsprung's disease


The hindgut enteric nervous system (ENS) contains cells originating from vagal and sacral neural crest. In avians, the sacral crest gives rise to the nerve of Remak (NoR) and pelvic plexus. Whereas the NoR has been suggested to serve as the source of sacral crest-derived cells to the gut, the contribution of the pelvic ganglia is unknown. The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that the pelvic ganglia contribute ganglion cells to the hindgut ENS. We observed that the quail pelvic plexus develops from neural crest-derived cells that aggregate around the cloaca at embryonic day 5. Using chick–quail tissue recombinations, we found that hindgut grafts did not contain enteric ganglia unless the pelvic plexus was included. Neurofibers extended from the NoR into the intestine, but no ganglion cell contribution from the NoR was identified. These results demonstrate that the pelvic plexus, and not the NoR, serves as the staging area for sacral crest-derived cells to enter the avian hindgut, confirming the evolutionary conservation of this important embryologic process. Developmental Dynamics 236:73–83, 2007. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.