Anatomical characteristics of tonic and phasic postganglionic neurons in guinea pig bronchial parasympathetic ganglia
Journal of Comparative Neurology 419(4): 439-450
Anatomical characteristics of principal parasympathetic ganglia neurons on the guinea pig primary bronchus were analyzed, and the procedure for localizing the ganglia without the aid of staining for in vitro physiological studies is described. The neurons were tightly packed within a perineural sheath, and the cell bodies formed a homogeneous population based on size and shape. By using intracellular electrophysiological recordings, unstained neurons within these ganglia were characterized with suprathreshold depolarizing stimuli as having either accommodating action potential patterns (phasic neurons) or repetitive action potential patterns (tonic neurons). After determining whether a cell was tonic or phasic, it was injected with either horseradish peroxidase or Neurobiotin for characterization of its dendrites. There were no differences between tonic and phasic neurons, and both exhibited the following: (1) dendrites were multiple and branching; (2) all processes (axon and dendrites) arose from a circumscribed area on the somatic surface; (3) the initial direction of the processes was usually toward the center of the ganglion, creating a very dense intraganglionic neuropil; (4) tapering processes (presumed dendrites) extended beyond the border of the perineural sheath; and (5) many processes terminated with bouton-like swellings near the somatic surfaces of neighboring neurons within the same ganglion. Electron microscopic examination of dendritic and cell body membranes revealed that greater than 90% of the synapses occurred on dendrites. Based on immunohistochemical staining, all neurons were calbindin negative. These results indicate a relatively homogeneous population of neurons in bronchial parasympathetic ganglia displaying dendritic characteristics compatible with complex integrative properties.