Using a postembedding immunogold electron microscopic method, the ultrastructure and synaptic connections of FMRFamide-like immunoreactive varicosities were investigated in different peripheral organs of the snail Helix pomatia, including the heart (auricle), intestine, hepatopancreas, upper tentacle and salivary gland. The FMRFamide-like immunoreactive varicosities contained granules and vesicles as described in a previous study of the CNS of this species, and additionally, based on their granule content, two novel types of varicosities were found in the auricle. A selective accumulation of gold particles over the granules could be demonstrated. The FMRFamide-like immunoreactive varicosities formed unspecialized contacts with postsynaptic target cells in all peripheral organs investigated, with the exception of the tentacle retractor muscle. Both the neuro-muscular and the neuro-glandular contacts were characterized by either unspecialized close apposition of the 'pre- and postsynaptic' membranes or the immunoreactive elements faced the target cell(s) across a relatively wide extracellular space. In the tentacle retractor muscle some of the neuromuscular contacts showed appositions of electron dense material along the presynaptic membrane, clustering of agranular synaptic vesicles and intersynaptic cleft material. The present observations support previous electrophysiological findings and suggest a versatile modulatory role of FMRFamide and related substances in the Helix PNS.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology