The localization of galanin immunoreactivity was analysed within the olfactory bulb of adult rats. Galanin-positive neurons were differentially distributed among the bulb layers. The density of stained neurons was highest in the glomerular and external plexiform layers. According to morphology, size, location and arrangement, a large proportion of galanin-immunoreactive neurons corresponds to external tufted cells and short-axon neurons in the superficial part of the external plexiform and glomerular layers. A smaller number were middle tufted cells and short-axons neurons, while only a few short-axon neurons were labeled in the granule cell layer. Galanin-stained nerve fibers had different structures (thick fibers with or without varicosities, and thin fibers with or without varicosities). Among them were afferent immunoreactive nerve fibers entering the bulb through the olfactory nerve layer, but penetrating superficial layers. Correspondingly, a large number of galanin-positive axons (with and without varicosities) were observed in the olfactory nerve layer. A number of galanin-positive nerve fibers was also present in the glomerular and internal plexiform layers, while these fibers were scarce in the granule cell layer; their density was lowest in the external plexiform layer. These results suggest that galanin-positive axons present in the olfactory bulb originate from at least four different sources. From the periphery axon bundles enter the bulb together with olfactory nerve fibers from the rostral direction and with a fiber bundle from the ventral posterior surface, i.e. at the border between the olfactory tract and the main olfactory bulb along a large blood vessel. Central sources are local interneurons in the olfactory bulb and some extrabulbar brain regions. Double-labeling experiments combining acetylcholinesterase histochemistry with galanin immunocytochemistry did not show any co-localization of acetylcholinesterase and galanin in nerve cell perikarya or nerve fibers. Synthetic porcine galanin(1-29) promoted acetylcholine release in olfactory bulb tissue slices, suggesting that galanin can effectively modulate cholinergic transmission and perhaps other forms of neuronal transmission. It is concluded that galanin may be significantly involved in olfactory processing at cellular and synaptic levels.
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