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Microsc Res Tech. 1999 Jan 15-Feb 1;44(2-3):137-65.

Cytoarchitecture of histamine-, dopamine-, serotonin- and octopamine-containing neurons in the cricket ventral nerve cord.

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Institut für Zoologie und Anthropologie, Abteilung für Zellbiologie, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Germany. MHOERNE@GWDG.DE


The present article provides a comparative neuroanatomical description of the cellular localization of the biogenic amines histamine, dopamine, serotonin and octopamine in the ventral nerve cord of an insect, namely the cricket, Gryllus bimaculatus. Generally, different immunocytochemical staining techniques reveal a small number of segmentally distributed immunoreactive (-IR) amine-containing neurons allowing single cell reconstruction of prominent elements. Aminergic neurons share common morphological features in that they innervate large portions of neurophil and often connect different neuromeres by intersegmental 'wide-field' projections of varicose appearance. In many cases aminergic terminals are also found on the surface of peripheral nerves suggesting additional neurohemal release sites. Despite such morphological similarities histological analysis demonstrates for any given amine functionally distinct neuron types with specific innervation patterns establishing discrete pathways. Histamine-IR interneurons are characterized by both ascending and descending projections forming central and peripheral terminals. The descending branches from dopamine-IR cells mainly converge within the terminal ganglion, whereas serotonin-IR interneurons with ascending projections often terminate within the brain. Serotonin is also present in sensory and motor neurons. In contrast to other aminergic neurons, most octopamine-IR cells represent unpaired neurons projecting through motor nerves of the soma-containing neuromere. Octopamine-IR cells with intersegmental branches are only rarely found. Based on these findings, a colocalization of different amines within the same neuron seems to be unlikely to occur in the cricket ventral nerve cord. With respect to the neuroanatomical description of amine-containing neurons known physiological effects of biogenic amines and their possible neuromodulatory functions in insects are discussed.

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