Effects of antibodies against acetylcholinesterase on the expression of peptides and catecholamine synthesizing enzymes in the rat adrenal gland

Å Dagerlind, S. Brimijoin, M. Goldstein, T. Hökfelt

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19 Scopus citations


In the rat, systemic administration of murine monoclonal antibodies against acetylcholinesterase caused rapid piloerection and ptosis (within 30-60 min after the injection). Using indirect immunohistochemistry the effect of these antibodies on peptides and enzyme expression was studied in the rat adrenal gland. Four days after antibody administration a total disappearance of acetylcholinesterase-immunoreactive fibers was observed. However, groups of acetylcholinesterase-immunoreactive chromaffin cells and intramedullary ganglion cells, both cell types showing acetylcholinesterase immunoreactivity also in the control adrenal medulla, expressed increased immunoreactivity. Analysis revealed that the acetylcholinesterase-immunoreactive chromaffin cell groups lacked phenylethanolamine-N-methyltransferase staining both in controls and treated rats. Antibody administration also affected levels of several peptides present in nerve fibers and chromaffin cells. Thus, the number of cells expressing enkephalin, calcitonin gene-related peptide and galanin was dramatically increased compared to the very few cells observed containing these three peptides in the normal gland. The majority of cells expressing enkephalin after antibody treatment also showed phenylethanolamine-N-methyltransferase immunoreactivity. In contrast, the few chromaffin cells expressing strong enkephalin-like immunoreactivity in controls were phenylethanolamine-N-methyltransferase negative. The sparse networks of calcitonin gene-related peptide- and galanin-positive fibers found in control adrenals were unchanged after the antibody treatment. However, the dense network of enkephalin varicose fibers totally disappeared after the antibody injection. A few substance P- and somatostatin-immunoreactive cells, not present in the normal gland, appeared after administration of the antibodies, whereas no changes were encountered with regard to immunoreactive nerve fibers. No clear differences between normal and treated animals could be observed in chromaffin cells with regard to immunoreactivity for neuropeptide Y or any of the four catecholamine-synthesizing enzymes, tyrosine hydroxylase, aromatic l-amino acid decarboxylase, dopamine β-hydroxylase or phenylethanolamine-N-methyltransferase. The present findings demonstrating a disappearance of acetylcholinesterase- and enkephalin-immunoreactive nerve fibers in the adrenal gland after intravenous injection of acetylcholinesterase antibodies support earlier reports showing that these antibodies cause degeneration of preganglionic fibers, and that neuronal decentralization of the adrenal gland induces marked increases in the levels of several peptides in chromaffin cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1079-1090
Number of pages12
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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