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Neuroscience. 1992;47(4):985-98.

Tyrosine hydroxylase and neuropeptide Y are increased in ciliary ganglia of sympathectomized rats.

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Department of Neurosciences, Case Western Reserve University, School of Medicine, Cleveland, OH 44106.


We have examined the expression of tyrosine hydroxylase and neuropeptide Y in ciliary ganglia of normal adult rats and of adult rats in which the environment of these neurons was altered by sympathectomy at birth. Following neonatal 6-hydroxydopamine treatment, the proportion of tyrosine hydroxylase-immunoreactive and neuropeptide Y-immunoreactive neurons in ciliary ganglia was significantly increased. In ciliary neurons of both control and sympathectomized rats, neuropeptide Y immunoreactivity was preferentially co-localized with tyrosine hydroxylase. Immunoblot analysis confirmed the presence of tyrosine hydroxylase and its increase following sympathectomy. In situ hybridization studies revealed that many ciliary neurons contain mRNA for tyrosine hydroxylase and for neuropeptide Y. Like tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactivity, the number of ciliary neurons containing tyrosine hydroxylase mRNA and the amount of mRNA per cell were increased in 6-hydroxydopamine-treated rats. In contrast, neuropeptide Y mRNA levels were the same in control and 6-hydroxydopamine-treated rats. Nerve growth factor is a candidate for mediating the effects of sympathectomy and most ciliary neurons in control and sympathectomized rats expressed immunoreactivity for the low-affinity nerve growth factor receptor. In addition, ciliary neurons from 6-hydroxydopamine-treated animals possessed increased nerve growth factor receptor immunoreactivity. These studies indicate that both tyrosine hydroxylase and neuropeptide Y in the ciliary ganglion are regulated by alterations in their environment. Their expression was enhanced by chemical sympathectomy which does not affect ciliary neurons directly but, rather, removes sympathetic innervation of shared targets, including the iris. In situ hybridization analysis suggests that the increased tyrosine hydroxylase and neuropeptide Y levels result from different mechanisms and provides evidence that neuropeptide levels can be regulated without changes in mRNA levels.

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