Quantitative analysis of the number and distribution of neurons richly innervated by GABA‐immunoreactive axons in the rat superior cervical ganglion

J. R. Wolff, P. Kasa, E. Dobo, R. J. Wenthold, F. Joo

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The superior cervical ganglion of rats contains a considerable number of nerve fibers with GABA‐like immunoreactivity which show a nonuniform distribution within the ganglion. The topography of these fibers has been analyzed by using antibodies raised against GABA‐BSA‐glutaraldehyde complexes. GABA‐postive axons and axon varicosities accumulated around a subpopulation of principal ganglion cells forming basketlike patterns. These neurons richly innervated by GABA‐positive axons (RIG‐neurons) in turn were aggregated in patches with strong immunoreactivity. The size and packing desity of the patches containing RIG‐neurons and GABA‐positive axons approaching them had rostral‐to‐caudal and medial‐to‐lateral gradients. Similar patterns were found in right and left ganglia. In five ganglia, a quantitative analysis revealed on average 1,344 RIG‐neurons per ganglion representing about 5% of the total neuron population, with small variations (standard deviation 122) despite the highly variable shape of the ganglia. The distribution of RIG‐neurons resembles that of neurons sending their axons into the internal carotid nerve. To check this possible correlation, HRP was injected into the eye and applied to the transected external carotid nerve. Double staining for the retrogradely transported peroxidase and GABA immunohistochemistry revealed that RIG‐neurons formed a small subpopulation of retrogradely labelled neurons in both experiments. This suggests that RIG‐neurons innervate various target organs. This conclusion is in agreement with the observation that RIG‐neurons also exist in other sympathetic ganglia. Data presented suggest that sympathetic ganglion cells can be classified on the basis of non‐uniform innervation patterns formed by axons that use different neurotransmitters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)264-273
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 8 1989


  • GABAergic innervation
  • autonomic nervous system
  • immunohistochemistry
  • sympathetic ganglia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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