We have examined immunohistochemically the distribution of postganglionic nerve cell bodies and their preganglionic inputs in the vagus nerve of the toad, Bufo marinus. Nerve cell bodies containing immunoreactivity (IR) to somatostatin (SOM) were found at the origin of the oesophago-gastric ramus; these neurons projected to the lung. Cell bodies with SOM-IR also occurred in the intracardiac branches of the vagus, but were absent from the distal segments of the pulmonary and oesophageal rami of the vagus. Cell bodies with IR to vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) also occurred at the origin of the oesophago-gastric ramus, but most of these neurons projected to the oesophagus. Most neurons in the distal pulmonary and oesophageal rami were VIP-IR. Some nerve cell bodies in the vagosympathetic trunk and in the intracardiac rami contained both SOM-IR and VIP-IR. Vagal preganglionic nerve fibres with IR both to a somatostatin-like peptide and to substance P were associated exclusively with those postganglionic VIP-IR neurons that projected to the oesophagus. These results provide evidence for highly specific connections between immunohistochemically defined populations of preganglionic and postganglionic neurons in the vagus nerve.
- Bufo marinus
- Substance P
- Vagus nerve
- Vasoactive intestinal peptide