This study set out to examine in detail the distribution of axons of sympathetic non-noradrenergic neurons innervating the arterial bed in skeletal muscles of the forelimb and hindlimb of guinea-pigs. The distribution of non-noradrenergic axons with immunoreactivity to vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) was examined in limb muscles of different histochemical character. The immunohistochemical demonstration of myosin heavy chain from fast-twitch muscle, and the histochemical demonstration of adenosine triphosphatase and succinic dehydrogenase, were used to determine the muscle fibre profile of 6 different limb muscles. Muscles included the oxidative type I muscle fibre-rich accessory semimembranosus muscle, the predominantly glycolytic type II muscle fibre-rich cranial gracilis and biceps brachii muscles and the plantaris, gastrocnemius medial head and triceps brachii long head of mixed muscle fibre composition. The frequency with which the VIP-immunoreactive (VIP-IR) axons innervated intramuscular arterial vessels was compared between categories of muscles defined by their muscle fibre profile. This study demonstrated that the projection of non-noradrenergic sympathetic neurons to skeletal muscle vasculature was widespread in guinea-pig limb muscles, but that it was not uniform. VIP-IR axons were more likely to innervate the arterial vasculature of muscles with a high proportion of type I and/or oxidative muscle fibres than of muscles with a large proportion of type lib muscle fibres. This relationship between the distribution of sympathetic non-noradrenergic axons and the metabolic characteristics of muscle suggests that these presumed vasodilator neurons have an important role in matching blood flow to the particular metabolic demands of different limb muscles.
- Muscle histochemistry
- Myosin heavy chain immunorcactivity
- Skeletal muscle vasculature
- Sympathetic neurons
- Vasoactive intestinal peptide
- Vasodilator neurons