, Volume 199, Issue 3, pp 373-386

Vacuolated neurons in the hypogastric ganglion of the rat

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Summary

The vacuolated neurons (VN) of the main hypogastric ganglion of the male rat were studied using the formaldehyde-induced fluorescence (FIF) method for the histochemical demonstration of catecholamines. Microspectrofluorimetry was performed to identify the fluorophores and to quantify the FIF. The thiocholine method (Koelle-Gomori) was used to demonstrate acetylcholinesterase activity. The fine structure of the VN was studied using glutaraldehyde/OsO4 fixation.

(1) In the untreated adult male rat VN represent only a small population of the total number of hypogastric neurons (0.8–1.2%). The vacuoles are similar to those of the VN from the corresponding female ganglion. (2) The VN are considered to be adrenergic due to the nature of their fluorophore, indicating a primary catecholamine. (3) The first VN appear in the hypogastric ganglia at the age of 7 weeks. After testosterone administration to young rats, VN are found at the age of 4 weeks. (4) The basic fine structure of the VN is similar to that of other ordinary neurons of the hypogastric ganglia. (5) The content of the vacuoles could not be identified. (6) Indications of degeneration were not observed in the VN. (7) The VN are interpreted as being a functional stage of the “short” adrenergic neurons, which are under the control of steroid hormones. (8) Fifteen months after castration, no VN could be found in the hypogastric ganglia, while their number was normal in the corresponding control animals.