The sympathetic innervation in false tendons as a whole and the distribution of the terminal sympathetic nerve fibers in the conduction tissue in the bundle branches is unclear. Therefore, in the present study, false tendons and bundle branch regions of the bovine heart were examined using tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) immunohistochemistry and the glyoxylic acid induced catecholamine (CA) fluorescence method for demonstration of sympathetic nerve fibers. Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) histochemistry was also applied. Some of the nerve fascicles in the false tendons were found to contain large numers of sympathetic nerve fibers and such nerve fibers formed plexuses in the walls of arteries and arterioles in these structures. In both false tendons and bundle branches sympathetic nerve fibers 1) were non-homogeneously distributed in the conduction tissue, most regularly occurring in the channels of extracellular space that are present within the bundles of Purkinje fibres. and 2) showed the same pattern of distribution in relation to Purkinje fibre bundle surfaces as the AChE-positive nerve branches. The observations show that there is a substantial sympathetic innervation in false tendons. The final distribution of the nerve fibers in these structures and in the bundle branches are discussed in relation to what is known of tissue morphology and the occurrence of sympathetic nerve influences in these regions. In the present study, previous CA-fluorescence observations of a “marked” sympathetic innervation in bundle branch regions, in terms of the presence of sympathetic nerve fibers in nerve fascicles and vessel walls, were also corroborated by the application of TH-immunohistochemistry.
Tyrosine hydroxylase Catecholamine histofluorescence Sympathetic innervation Conduction system