The distribution of galanin (Gal) in sympathetic vascular neurons of adult and juvenile brush-tailed possums (Trichosurus vulpecular), was examined using double-labelling immunohistochemistry. This was compared with the distribution of neuropeptide Y (NPY) in the same tissues. Immunoreactivity (IR) to galanin was present in the majority (64-99%) of nerve cell bodies in paravertebral sympathetic ganglia, where it mostly co-existed with IR to the catecholamine-synthesizing enzyme, tyrosine hydroxylase (TH). Gal-IR also was present in most, if not all, TH-IR perivascular axons supplying systemic arteries and veins. NPY-IR was less common than Gal-IR in all sympathetic ganglia and perivascular axons examined. Some sympathetic, TH-IR axons supplying the abdominal aorta and renal artery contained both Gal-IR and NPY-IR, while TH-IR axons supplying cephalic and thoracic vessels contained Gal-IR but not NPY-IR. Limited observations on sympathetic neurons in two species of wallabies indicated that Gal-IR also was more common than NPY-IR in other marsupial species, but the incidence of NPY-IR was higher in these wallabies than in the brush-tailed possum. Together with previous studies, this work suggests that the co-existence of galanin and NPY may be the primitive condition for sympathetic neurons in tetrapods. The differential expression of these peptides in specific populations of sympathetic neurons may have important functional consequences in the autonomic control of the circulation.
- Perivascular axon
- Vasoconstrictor neuron