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Cell Tissue Res. 1989;256(2):259-73.

NPY-, galanin-, VIP/PHI-, CGRP- and substance P-immunoreactive neuronal subpopulations in cat autonomic and sensory ganglia and their projections.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.


The neuronal subpopulations in the cat stellate, lower lumbar and sacral sympathetic ganglia were studied with regard to the cellular distribution of immunoreactivity to tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and various neuronal peptides. Coexistence of neuropeptide Y (NPY)- and galanin (GAL)-like immunoreactivity (LI) was found in a high proportion of the neuronal cell bodies; these cells also contained immunoreactivity to TH, confirming their presumably noradrenergic nature. Some TH- and GAL-immunoreactive principal ganglion cells lacked NPY-LI. Two populations (scattered and clustered) of vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP)- and peptide histidine isoleucine (PHI)-positive cell bodies were found in the sympathetic ganglia studied. The scattered VIP/PHI neurons also contained AChE-LI, calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP)-and, following culture, substance P (SP)-LI. The clustered type only contained AChE-LI. In the submandibular and sphenopalatine ganglia, neurons were AChE- and VIP/PHI-immunoreactive but lacked CGRP- and SP-LI. Many GAL- and occasional TH-positive neurons were found in these ganglia. In the spinal ganglia, single NPY-immunoreactive sensory neuronal cells were observed, in addition to CGRP- and SP-positive neurons. The present results show that there are at least two populations of sympathetic cholinergic neurons in the cat. Retrograde tracing experiments indicate that the scattered type of cholinergic neurons contains four vasodilator peptides (VIP, PHI, CGRP, SP) and provides an important input to sweat glands, whereas the clustered type (containing VIP and PHI) mainly innervates blood vessels in muscles.

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