Expression of the noradrenaline transporter (NAT) was identified in various cell and fibre populations of the rat adrenal medulla, examined with immunohistochemistry and confocal microscopy. Immunoreactivity for the catecholamine biosynthetic enzymes tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), aromatic-L-amino-acid decarboxylase (AADC) and dopamine β-hydroxylase (DBH) was present in all chromaffin cells, while phenylethanolamine N-methyltransferase (PNMT) was used to determine adrenergic chromaffin cell groups. Labelling with NAT antibody was predominantly cytoplasmic and colocalised with PNMT immunoreactivity. Noradrenergic chromaffin cells were not NAT immunoreactive. Additionally, NAT antibody labelling demonstrated clusters of ganglion cells (presumably Type I) and nerve fibres. Expression of TH, AADC, DBH, PNMT and NAT mRNA was examined using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) from adrenal medulla punches and single chromaffin cells, and results were consistent with those obtained with immunocytochemistry. Chromaffin cells and fibres labelled with antibodies against growth associated protein-43 (GAP-43) were not NAT immunoreactive, while ganglion cells were doubled labelled with the two antibodies. The presence of NAT in adrenergic chromaffin cells, and its absence from noradrenergic cells, suggests that the adrenergic cell type is primarily responsible for uptake of catecholamines in the adrenal medulla.
- Phenylethanolamine N-methyltransferase, Immunohistochemistry
- Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction
- Type I ganglion cells
- Tyrosine hydroxylase