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J Auton Nerv Syst. 1993 Jan;42(1):71-80.

Neuronal projections to the guinea pig stellate ganglion investigated by retrograde tracing.

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Institute for Anatomy and Cell Biology, Ruprecht-Karls-University, Heidelberg, FRG.


Previous electrophysiological studies have revealed a peripheral sensory input to the stellate ganglion which does not originate from the dorsal root ganglia. The present retrograde tracing study aimed at evaluating whether the parent cell bodies are located in the periphery, i.e. in mediastinal ganglia. Following injection of Fast blue or wheat germ agglutinin-horseradish peroxidase into the right stellate ganglion of the guinea pig, retrogradely labelled cell bodies were observed in the intermediolateral and intercalated nuclei of the spinal cord as well as in dorsal root ganglia at segmental levels C8 to T6. In another case, the stellate ganglion was resected and replaced by a sponge soaked with 10 microliters of Fast blue. Labelling of preganglionic and sensory neurons parallelled that obtained by tracer injections. In neither case, however, were retrogradely labelled neurons found within or around the thoracic viscera (thymus, trachea, bronchi, esophagus, heart, great vessels of upper mediastinum) when these were cut serially en bloc. Controls performed by injection of Fast blue into the inferior mesenteric ganglion and investigation of the distal colon showed that our experimental protocol was able to visualize a peripheral projection towards a sympathetic ganglion--in this case from myenteric ganglia to the inferior mesenteric ganglion. We conclude that, in contrast to the circuitry connecting prevertebral sympathetic ganglia with the gut, the neuronal cell bodies providing peripheral sensory input from thoracic viscera to the right stellate ganglion most likely are not located within the mediastinal ganglia. Instead, they may reside within the stellate ganglion itself.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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