Administration of monoclonal antibodies against acetylcholinesterase (AChE-mabs) to adult rats leads to a selective degeneration of the acetylcholine esterase- (AChE), choline acetyltransferase- (ChAT) and enkephalin- (ENK) positive preganglionic fibres of the splanchnic nerve innervating the adrenal gland. Here we used this approach of immunological sympathectomy, performed at postnatal day 2 (P2), in an attempt to study the developmental role of the preganglionic fibres in the adrenal medulla in more detail. Analysis was performed at P16 and revealed that the effect of this treatment varied considerably between animals, as judged by the number of remaining AChE-, ChAT- and ENK-positive fibres. The number and intensity especially of ENK fibres in the adrenal medulla correlated negatively with the number and staining intensity of ENK-immunoreactive chromaffin cells, suggesting a 'dose-response' relationship. Thus, the high early postnatal levels of ENK-like immunoreactivity generally persisted in chromaffin cells of adrenals with a successful immunosympathectomy, i.e. in those adrenals that lacked AChE-, ChAT- and ENK-positive nerves. In contrast, calcitonin gene-related peptide-like immunoreactivity in nerves and chromaffin cells was not affected. Large and strongly AChE-positive intra-adrenal ganglion neurones, recently termed type I ganglion neurones, were present also after AChE-mab treatment and had an apparently normal morphology. These results indicate a role for preganglionic fibres in the developmental regulation of ENK in the chromaffin cells. However, these fibres appear less important for the postnatal development of the type I ganglion neurones.
- Calcitonin gene-related peptide
- Choline acetyltransferase
- Galanin message-associated peptide
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Neuroscience
- Developmental Biology