Morphological features of nerve fibers and synapses containing GABA and [Met]enkephalin were studied at the light and electron microscopic levels in the superior cervical ganglia of rats by preand postembedding immunohistochemistry. Both GABA and [Met]enkephalin immunoreactivities were found in varicose nerve fibers, forming diffuse networks which were denser in the rostral than in the caudal part of each ganglion. For both antigens rich and basket-like innervation was observed around some of the principal neurons. The GABA-immunoreactive fibers were evenly stained, while in case of [Met]enkephalin-positive nerve fibers the varicosities showed intensive immunopositivity only. Postembedding immunochemistry revealed that both inhibitory substances were located in axon varicosities which established asymmetric synapses of Gray I type. Fine structural investigation revealed that GABA-like immunoreactivity was confined in the nerve endings to the clear synaptic vesicles of 40 nm diameter, whereas the immunogold particles, indicating the occurrence of [Met]enkephalin, were located over the large dense-cored vesicles of 120 nm diameter. The clear and dense-cored vesicles were, however, mixed in the nerve endings labeled by either neurotransmitter substance. Interestingly, the [Met]enkephalin-immunopositive axon terminals were found, consequently, in synaptic contacts with dendrites containing dense bodies in a row underlying the postsynaptic membrane thickening. Since nerve terminals with GABA-like immunoreactivity established synapses of Gray I type without such subjunctional bodies, one can reasonably assume that, in spite of similarities in termination pattern, there is no co-existence of GABA and enkephalin in the axons in the superior cervical ganglion.
ASJC Scopus subject areas