Previous studies have generated controversy about the extent of co-localization between substance P- and catecholamine-containing neurons that project to the spinal cord. In earlier studies, estimates using immunofluorescence after colchicine have ranged from almost all, to almost none. We sought to resolve this issue by combining in situ hybridization and immunofluorescence. Catecholamine (A1 to A7, C1 to C3; tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactive) neurons in the rat brainstem were examined to determine their content of mRNA for the preprotachykinin-A gene. In the A1 to A7 and the C1 to C3 cell groups, preprotachykinin-A mRNA was found only in substantial amounts in the C1-C3 cell groups. On average 20.9±0.9% (234/1120, n=3) of rostral C1 neurons contained preprotachykinin-A mRNA. Co-localization was also observed in C2 and C3 neurons to a similar extent. Retrograde tract-tracing with cholera toxin B subunit was used to identify bulbospinal neurons and 17.9±2.7% (96/529 cells) of the bulbospinal tyrosine hydroxylase-containing neurons of the rostral C1 cell group were found to contain preprotachykinin-A mRNA. In addition a new population of non-catecholaminergic bulbospinal preprotachykinin-A neurons is described in an area corresponding to the recently described caudal pressor area. To confirm that the preprotachykinin-A mRNA observed in cells in the medulla was converted to protein, dual immunofluorescence for fiber labeling at the confocal level was carried out. This confirmed colocalization of substance P and tyrosine hydroxylase in the intermediolateral cell column, but nowhere else, in a small number of cases. The results provide evidence for a much larger population of substance P/neurokinin A containing neurons in the brainstem than was previously suspected. Furthermore, many of these neurons are catecholaminergic and spinally projecting. The specific sympathetic outflow that these neurons influence remains to be determined.
|Number of pages||12|
|Publication status||Published - 2005|