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J Comp Neurol. 2003 Jun 30;461(3):350-61.

Distribution of neuropeptide Y immunoreactivity in the central and peripheral nervous systems of amphioxus (Branchiostoma lanceolatum Pallas).

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Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Faculty of Sciences, University of A Coruña, 15071 A Coruña, Spain.


Immunocytochemistry techniques were employed to investigate the distribution of neuropeptide Y-like-immunoreactive (NPY-ir) cells and fibers in the central and peripheral nervous systems of adult amphioxus. NPY-ir neurons of the commissural type were abundant in the brain and present but more scarce in the spinal cord. These neurons gave rise to conspicuous NPY-ir tracts that coursed along the entire length of the nerve cord. Some fibers exhibited conspicuous Herring body-like swellings. In the peripheral nervous system, small NPY-ir neurons and a large number of thin, beaded NPY-ir fibers were observed in the atrial region, indicating the involvement of this substance in visceral regulation. A few NPY-ir fibers, possibly afferent to the spinal cord, coursed in the ventral branches of the spinal nerves of this region, whereas no NPY-ir fibers coursed in the preoral or velar nerves or in the dorsal branches of the other spinal nerves. These results indicate that NPY is widely used as a neuroregulator/neurotransmitter in the central and peripheral nervous systems of this primitive chordate. In addition, this study demonstrates the presence of tall, thin NPY-ir cells in the putative adenohypophyseal homologue, the Hatschek's pit organ, which is located in the roof of the preoral cavity (vestibule).

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