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Brain Behav Immun. 1991 Mar;5(1):116-31.

Neuropeptide-Y innervation of the rat spleen: another potential immunomodulatory neuropeptide.

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  • 1Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, University of Rochester Medical Center, New York 14642.


Neuropeptide-Y (NPY) is a 36 amino acid peptide that acts as a chemical messenger in the central and peripheral nervous systems. NPY often is found colocalized with the classical neurotransmitter norepinephrine (NE) and can potentiate the effects of this neurotransmitter postsynaptically in many systems. Using immunocytochemistry for NPY and specific lymphoid cell markers, we mapped the distribution of NPY-positive nerve fibers in the rat spleen. NPY-positive nerve fibers were present along the vasculature, trabeculae, and capsule, and also were found associated with specific lymphoid parenchymal compartments of the spleen, in close contact with lymphocytes and macrophages. These contacts were investigated further at the electron microscopic level. NPY-positive nerve terminals were found in close apposition with lymphocytes in the periarteriolar lymphatic sheath, and with lymphocytes and macrophages in the marginal zone. Previous studies have reported that postganglionic noradrenergic nerve fibers innervate specific lymphoid compartments of the rat spleen, with nerve terminals forming direct appositions with cells of the immune system. The possible colocalization of NPY and NE in these nerve fibers was investigated by chemical sympathectomy with 6-hydroxydopamine, followed by immunocytochemical labeling of NPY and tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), the rate-limiting enzyme in norepinephrine synthesis. Colocalization also was investigated by labeling for NPY with a fluorescent label, eluting the NPY, and staining for TH with diaminobenzidine as the label. These studies demonstrate that norepinephrine and NPY are colocalized in the postganglionic sympathetic nerve fibers of the rat spleen.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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