Nitric oxide synthase-immunoreactive vagal afferent fibers in rat superior cervical ganglia

Dun, N.J.; Dun, S.L.; Chiba, T.; Förstermann, U.

Neuroscience 65(1): 231-239


ISSN/ISBN: 0306-4522
PMID: 7538645
DOI: 10.1016/0306-4522(94)00455-e
Accession: 009098959

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Chronic (5-14 days) preganglionic denervation of the rat superior cervical ganglia by sectioning the cervical sympathetic trunk resulted in a time-related partial or complete loss of nitric oxide synthase (isoform I)-immunoreactive fibers and terminals surrounding many sympathetic ganglionic neurons. Unexpectedly, denervation unmasked many varicose nitric oxide synthase-immunoreactive fibers, some of which could be traced the entire length of the superior cervical ganglia. Injection of the retrograde tracer Fluorogold into the superior cervical ganglia labeled a population of nodose ganglion cells and of dorsal root ganglion cells from C8 to T3 segments. When the same sections were processed for nitric oxide synthase-immunoreactivity, 40% of the Fluorogold-containing nodose ganglion cells also expressed nitric oxide synthase-immunoreactivity, whereas colocalization was observed in only a few dorsal root ganglion cells. Similarly, injection of Fluorogold into denervated superior cervical ganglia labeled a population of nodose ganglion cells. Sectioning of all nerve trunks associated with the superior cervical ganglion prior to injection of Fluorogold, except the cervical sympathetic trunk, resulted in no detectable labeling of Fluorogold in the ipsilateral nodose ganglion cells. These results indicate that a population of rat nodose ganglion cells contain nitric oxide synthase and that some of these neurons project their axons through the superior cervical ganglion and terminate in the peripheral target tissues. The possibility that nitric oxide synthase-immunoreactive vagal afferent fibers may participate in nociception is considered.