Chemical coding for cardiovascular sympathetic preganglionic neurons in rats

David G. Gonsalvez, Ilan A. Kerman, Robin M. McAllen, Colin R. Anderson

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Cocaine and amphetamine-regulated transcript peptide (CART) is present in a subset of sympathetic preganglionic neurons in the rat. We examined the distribution of CART-immunoreactive terminals in rat stellate and superior cervical ganglia and adrenal gland and found that they surround neuropeptide Y-immunoreactive postganglionic neurons and noradrenergic chromaffin cells. The targets of CART-immunoreactive preganglionic neurons in the stellate and superior cervical ganglia were shown to be vasoconstrictor neurons supplying muscle and skin and cardiac-projecting postganglionic neurons: they did not target non-vasoconstrictor neurons innervating salivary glands, piloerector muscle, brown fat, or adrenergic chromaffin cells. Transneuronal tracing using pseudorabies virus demonstrated that many, but not all, preganglionic neurons in the vasoconstrictor pathway to forelimb skeletal muscle were CART immunoreactive. Similarly, analysis with the confocal microscope confirmed that 70% of boutons in contact with vasoconstrictor ganglion cells contained CART, whereas 30% did not. Finally, we show that CART-immunoreactive cells represented 69% of the preganglionic neuron population expressing c-Fos after systemic hypoxia. We conclude that CART is present in most, although not all, cardiovascular preganglionic neurons but not thoracic preganglionic neurons with non-cardiovascular targets. We suggest that CART immunoreactivity may identify the postulated "accessory" preganglionic neurons, whose actions may amplify vasomotor ganglionic transmission.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11781-11791
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number35
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2010
Externally publishedYes

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