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J Neurosci Res. 1987;18(1):55-63, 126-9.

Noradrenergic sympathetic innervation of the spleen: IV. Morphometric analysis in adult and aged F344 rats.

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Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, New York 14642.


Noradrenergic postganglionic sympathetic innervation of the spleen in 8-month-old (adult) and 27-month-old (aged) Fischer 344 (F344) rats was examined using fluorescence histochemistry for catecholamines coupled with stereologic point-counting analysis for quantitation of noradrenergic varicosities. Noradrenergic varicosities in the spleen were evaluated in four compartments: (1) vascular-, (2) trabecular-, (3) capsular-, and (4) parenchymal-associated fibers. The 27-month-old rats were subdivided further into two groups based upon behavioral testing for gustatory neophobia, a condition reported to be associated with acute locus coeruleus lesions in young rats and with diminished norepinephrine (NE) levels in central noradrenergic neurons in aged rats. In the 8-month-old rats, spleens displayed abundant innervation. Noradrenergic plexuses entered the spleen with the splenic artery and its branches, distributed into capsular and trabecular compartments, and followed the vasculature and trabeculae into splenic white pulp. Noradrenergic fibers entered the white pulp mainly in association with the central artery and its branches; liner and punctate varicosities branched mainly from vascular plexuses into the large, well-defined parenchyma of the white pulp, ending primarily among fields of T lymphocytes. Some fibers extended along the inner edge of the marginal zone and the parafollicular zone. Few noradrenergic varicosities were found in the red pulp. In both groups of aged rats, sympathetic noradrenergic innervation was diminished markedly.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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