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Brain Res. 2013 Nov 6;1537:132-42. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2013.09.002. Epub 2013 Sep 9.

Intrapancreatic ganglia neurons receive projection fibers from melanocortin-4 receptor-expressing neurons in the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus nerve of the mouse.

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1
Department of Anatomy and Morphological Neuroscience, Shimane University School of Medicine, Izumo 693-8501, Japan.

Abstract

Melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R)-expressing neurons are widely distributed in the central nervous system and play a crucial role in a variety of physiological functions including energy and glucose/insulin homeostasis. However, their neural pathways remain to be elucidated. In the present study, we examined a possible pathway from MC4R-expressing neurons in the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus nerve (DMV) to the intrapancreatic ganglia using transgenic mice that express green fluorescent protein (GFP) under the control of the MC4R-promoter. Using immunofluorescence labeling, we demonstrated that GFP-immunoreactive (ir) nerve fibers were distributed in the intrapancreatic ganglia closely associated with the islets as well as among the acini. These GFP-ir fibers with bouton-like varicosities were frequently observed to surround ganglion cells immunoreactive for vasoactive intestinal polypeptide, a marker for postganglionic parasympathetic neurons. Using the pre-embedding immunoperoxidase method, we clearly showed that GFP-ir terminals formed synapses predominantly with dendrites and additionally with somata of the ganglion cells. Moreover, bilateral subdiaphragmatic vagotomy caused a marked loss of GFP immunoreactivity in the pancreas. Using a combination of retrograde tracing and immunohistochemistry, we finally demonstrated that nearly half of the pancreas-projecting DMV neurons were immunoreactive for GFP. These results suggest that MC4R-expressing DMV neurons may participate in the regulation of glucose/insulin homeostasis through their projections to the intrapancreatic ganglia.

KEYWORDS:

Dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus nerve; Green fluorescent protein; Intrapancreatic ganglia; Melanocortin-4 receptor; Mouse

PMID:
24028856
DOI:
10.1016/j.brainres.2013.09.002
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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