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Localization and axonal transport of immunoreactive cholinergic organelles in rat motor neurons--an immunofluorescent study.

  • Dahlström, A
  • Larsson, P A
  • Carlson, S S
  • Bööj, S
Published Article
Publication Date
Feb 01, 1985
PMID: 2581170


Antisera produced in rabbits against pure fractions of cholinergic vesicles from Narcine brasiliensis were used to study cholinergic organelles in rat motor neurons. The indirect immunofluorescence method was used on perfusion-fixed material. The rats were surgically sympathectomized to remove sympathetic adrenergic and cholinergic nerves from the sciatic nerve. In the intact animal immunoreactive material, likely to represent cholinergic vesicles, was observed in motor endplates, identified by labelling with rhodamine-conjugated alpha-bungarotoxin or with subsequent acetylcholinesterase staining. The motor perikarya contained very little immunoreactive material. Non-terminal axons were virtually devoid of immunofluorescence in the intact animal. After crushing the sciatic nerve, immunoreactive material (likely to represent axonal cholinergic organelles) accumulated rapidly on both sides of the crush, indicating a rapid bidirectional transport. The transport was sensitive to local application of mitotic inhibitors. The axons which accumulated immunoreactive organelles were motor axons, as demonstrated by various procedures: Cutting of ventral roots prevented accumulation of immunoreactive material in the nerve. Deafferentation did not notably influence accumulations of immunoreactive material. Ligated axons with immunoreactive material were acetylcholinesterase positive when identification was made on the same section; the intra-axonal distribution of immunoreactive material and acetylcholinesterase was not identical, however, and the Narcine antisera did not cross-react with bovine acetylcholinesterase in a solid phase immunoassay. Most axons in ventral roots, but not in dorsal roots, accumulated strongly fluorescent immunoreactive material, while axons in dorsal roots contained weakly fluorescent material. On the other hand, substance P-like immune reactivity was present in many dorsal root axons, but only very rarely in ventral roots. It is suggested that the antisera against Narcine cholinergic vesicles can be used as a marker for cholinergic organelles in the motor neuron, and may be an important tool for studying the axonal cholinergic vesicles. It cannot, however, be used to identify cholinergic structures in unknown locations because it recognizes common antigenic determinants in transmitter organelles of other nerves, e.g. adrenergic nerves. The axonal cholinergic organelles may carry important molecules, other than acetylcholine to the nerve endings.

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