Distribution of tyrosine hydroxylase and neuropeptide Y–like immunoreactive neurons in rabbit medulla oblongata, with attention to colocalization studies, presumptive adrenaline‐synthesizing perikarya, and vagal preganglionic cells

W. W. Blessing, P. R.C. Howe, T. H. Joh, J. R. Oliver, J. O. Willoughby

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    We studied the distribution, within the rabbit medulla oblongata, of neuronal cell bodies containing either tyrosine hydroxylase or neuropeptide Y‐like immunoreactivity. Both avidin‐biotin and immunofluorescence procedures were used. Because the two primary antibodies were raised in different species it was possible to perform simultaneous colocalization studies with the immunofluorescence procedure. Tyrosine hydroxylase‐containing neurons in the rostral medulla were demonstrated to contain a catecholamine by the colchicine‐enhanced FAGLU (formaldehyde‐glutaraldehyde) fluorescence histochemical procedure. These neurons are presumably adrenergic, corresponding to the C1 and C2 groups described in the rat. No C3 group was found in the rabbit. The distribution of tyrosine hydroxylase–containing neurons in the caudal medulla was in accordance with previous descriptions of the A1 and A2 groups based on the unenhanced FAGLU procedure. Neuropeptide Y–like immunoreactivity was observed in cell groups corresponding to those already described in the rat, but additional groups were discovered in the rabbit. Some neurons containing neuropeptide Y–like immunoreactivity were observed in nucleus raphe pallidus and these also contained serotonin (5‐HT). In the nearby nucleus reticularis gigantocellularis there were occasional neurons that contained neuropeptide Y–like immunoreactivity without any colocalized 5‐HT. Neuropeptide Y–like immunoreactivity was also observed in the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus, rostral to the obex, and these neurons were demonstrated to be true vagal preganglionic cells by colocalization of neuropeptide Y–like immunoreactivity and Fast Blueretrogradely transported from the cervical vagus. We found that neuropeptide Y–like immunoreactivity was colocalized in approximately 75% of the tyrosine hydroxylase‐containing neurons in the rostral medulla (C1 and C2 cells). A smaller proportion of the A1 cells also contained this peptide but it was absent from both the most caudal A1 cells and from the A2 cells. Some tyrosine hydroxylase–containing neurons occur in direct apposition to vagal preganglionic cells in both the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus and the nucleus ambiguus. However, colocalization studies revealed that none of these neurons contained Fast Blue when this dye was retrogradely transported from the cervical vagus. Medullary catecholamine‐synthesizing neurons apparently do not contribute axons to the vagus nerve. This finding is consistent with our own studies in the rat but is in contrast to studies in this species published by other workers.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)285-300
    Number of pages16
    JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 1986


    • catecholamine‐containing neurons
    • immunohistochemical methods
    • nucleus tractus solitarius
    • ventrolateral medulla

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