Journal of Neurocytology

, Volume 20, Issue 10, pp 781-795

First online:

Two types of sympathetic axon innervating the juxtaglomerular arterioles of the rabbit and rat kidney differ structurally from those supplying other arteries

  • S. E. LuffAffiliated withBaker Medical Research Institute
  • , S. G. HengstbergerAffiliated withBaker Medical Research Institute
  • , E. M. MclachlanAffiliated withDepartment of Physiology and Pharmacology, University of Queensland
  • , W. P. AndersonAffiliated withBaker Medical Research Institute

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Ultrastructural analyses of serial thin sections have revealed two structurally different types of sympathetic axon innervating the afferent and efferent juxtaglomerular arterioles and the intralobular arteries in the outer cortex of the rabbit kidney. Both types of axon have also been found in association with an afferent arteriole in rat kidney. One axon type consists of relatively large diameter unmyelinated axons bearing varicosities in the form of slight expansions. The varicosities have a distinct structural zonation: synaptic vesicles occupy the expansion which faces the smooth muscle cells, whereas the rest of the axon is filled with numerous microtubules. The other axon type has varicosities containing vesicles and mitochondria but few microtubules. The varicosities are generally small and the intervaricosities very thin. The relationship of both axon types with support cells and/or basal lamina is sometimes poorly defined. Both axon types are catecholaminergic as their vesicles take up 6-hydroxydopamine and both types form junctions with arteriolar smooth muscle cells. As well as differing from each other, both types of intrarenal axon differ in several respects from those which innervate other arterial vessels.