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Anat Embryol (Berl). 1993 Sep;188(3):219-37.

Innervation of the dura mater encephali of cat and rat: ultrastructure and calcitonin gene-related peptide-like and substance P-like immunoreactivity.

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  • 1Physiologisches Institut, Lehrstuhl II, Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, Germany.


Ultrastructural, immunocytochemical, and immunoelectron microscopical examinations are reported that describe the morphology of putative sensory nerve endings in the dura mater encephali of the rat and the cat. Morphometrical measurements and reconstructions showed that in the cat the mean diameter of axons, the bare area of axolemma, and the content of mitochondria and vesicles are highly variable in dural nerve endings. Nerve fibers with a high volume density of mitochondria are thought to be sensory, while nerve fibers containing many small vesicles are considered autonomic. There is, however, a broad overlap of mitochondria-rich and vesicle-rich nerve fibers in the dura, so that discrimination between sensory and autonomic endings by these characteristics frequently fails. Whole-mount preparations treated cytochemically for detection of substance P- and calcitonin gene-related peptide-like immunoreactivity in the rat and the cat showed a network of immunopositive nerve fibers in the vicinity of dural blood vessels. Most of these peptidergic and probably sensory nerve fibers were found terminating in the dural connective tissue far from vessels. Calcitonin gene-related peptide-positive nerve fibers were much more abundant than substance P-positive fibers. Immunoelectron microscopic preparations revealed that calcitonin gene-related peptide- and substance P-like immunoreactivity is found in a small proportion of generally thin unmyelinated nerve fibers. These proportions were very similar in the rat and the cat. Summarizing the recent literature, the morphological characteristics of putative sensory nerve fibers in the dura mater are discussed in relation to their possible functional significance for neurogenic inflammation and nociception.

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