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J Chem Neuroanat. 2007 Nov;34(3-4):69-79. Epub 2007 May 22.

Distribution and morphology of putative catecholaminergic and serotonergic neurons in the medulla oblongata of a sub-adult giraffe, Giraffa camelopardalis.

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School of Anatomical Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, 7 York Road, Parktown 2193, Johannesburg, Republic of South Africa.


The current study details the nuclear parcellation and appearance of putative catecholaminergic and serotonergic neurons within the medulla oblongata of a sub-adult giraffe, using immunohistochemistry for tyrosine hydroxylase and serotonin. We hypothesized that the unusual phenotype of the giraffe, this being the long neck and potential axonal lengthening of these neurons, may pose specific problems in terms of the efficient functioning of these systems, as several groups of catecholaminergic and serotonergic neurons, especially of the medulla, are known to project to the entire spinal cord. This specific challenge may lead to observable differences in the nuclear parcellation and morphology of these systems in the giraffe. Our personal observations in the giraffe reveal that, as with other Artiodactyls, the spinal cord extends to the caudal end of the sacral vertebrae. Within the giraffe medulla we found evidence for five putative catecholaminergic (neurons containing tyrosine hydroxylase) and five serotonergic nuclei. In terms of both morphological appearance of the neurons and nuclear parcellation we did not find any evidence for features that may be considered affected by the phenotype of the giraffe. The nuclear parcellation and appearance of both the putative catecholaminergic and serotonergic systems in the medulla of the giraffe studied are strikingly similar to that seen in previous studies of other Artiodactyls. We interpret these findings in terms of a growing literature detailing order specific phylogenetic constraints in the evolution of these neuromodulatory systems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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