, Volume 47, Issue 2, pp 133–143 | Cite as

Histochemical demonstration of cholinesterase activity in the cornea of the rat and the effect of various denervations on the corneal nerves

  • Timo Tervo


Cholinesterase (ChE) activities of the rat cornea were demonstrated histochemically by using both light and electron microscopes. Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) reaction was localized in the axolemma of the nerves in the corneal stroma. The epithelial cell membranes and the intraepithelial nerve endings also showed AChE reaction.

Non-specific cholinesterase (NsChE) activity was observed only in the endothelial cell membranes.

Cervical sympathectomy, ciliary ganglionectomy and stereotactic coagulation of the ophthalmic division of the trigeminal nerve were performed in order to study the routes of the AChE-containing nerves to the cornea. The disappearence of AChE-containing nerves was observed only after ophthalmic neurotomy. It is suggested that the AChE-containing nerves are distributed to the rat cornea exclusively via the ophthalmic nerve. They seem to be sensory nerves.


Cholinesterase Acetylcholinesterase Sensory Nerve Nerve Ending Trigeminal Nerve 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alphen, G.W.H.M.van: Acetylcholine synthesis in corneal epithelium. Arch. Ophthal. 58, 449–451 (1957)Google Scholar
  2. Ballantyne, B., Fourman, J.: Cholinesterases and the secretory activity of the duck supraorbital gland. J. Physiol. (Lond.) 188, 32–33 (1956)Google Scholar
  3. Beatie, J.C., Stilwell, D.L.: Innervation of the eye. Anat. Rec. 141, 45–61 (1961)Google Scholar
  4. Brücke, H.v., Friedrich, H., Umrath, K.: Acetylcholin- und Aneuringehalt der Hornhaut und seine Beziehungen zur Nervenversorgung. Ophthalmologica (Basel) 117, 19–35 (1949)Google Scholar
  5. Cooper, J.R.: Personal communication to A. Sillver. Acknowledged by A. Sillver in: The biology of cholinesterases, p. 379. Amsterdam: North Holland Publ. Comp. 1974Google Scholar
  6. Donn, A., Maurice, D.M., Millls, N.L.: Studies on the living cornea in vitro II. The active transport of sodium across the epithelium. Arch. Ophthal. 62, 748–757 (1959)Google Scholar
  7. Ehinger, B.: Adrenergic nerves to the eye and its adnexa in rabbit and quinea-pig. Acta Univ. Lund. Sect. II, No. 20, 1–23 (1964)Google Scholar
  8. Ehinger, B.: Cholinesterases in ocular and orbital tissues of some mammals. Acta Univ. Lund. Sect. II, No 2, 1–15 (1966)Google Scholar
  9. Ehinger, B., Falck, B.: Concomitant adrenergic and parasympathetic fibres in the rat iris. Acta physiol. scand. 67, 201–207 (1966)Google Scholar
  10. Eränkö, L., Eränkö, O.: Histochemical observations on enzymatic hydrolysis of acetyl-, butyryl-and propionylthiocholine by rat sympathetic ganglion. Med. Biol. 52, 111–120 (1974)Google Scholar
  11. Eränkö, O., Härkönen, M., Kokko, A., Räisänen, L.: Histochemical and starch gel electrophoretic characterization of desmo- and lyo-eserases in the sympathetic and spinal ganglia of the rat. J. Histochem. Cytochem. 12, 570–581 (1964)Google Scholar
  12. Eränkö, O.: On the histochemistry of the adrenal medulla of the rat with special references to acid phosphatase. Acta anat. (Basel) 16, Suppl. 17, 1–60 (1952)Google Scholar
  13. Fitzgerald, G.G., Cooper, J.R.: Acetylcholine as possible sensory mediator in rabbit corneal epithelium. Biochem. Pharmacol. 20, 2741–2748 (1971)Google Scholar
  14. Fourman, J.: Cholinesterase activity in the supra-orbital salt secreting gland of the duck. J. Anat. (Lond.) 104, 233–239 (1969)Google Scholar
  15. Hervonen, H., Rechardt, L.: Light and electron microscopic demonstration of cholinesterases of the cultured sympathetic ganglia of the chick embryo. Histochemistry 39, 129–142 (1974)Google Scholar
  16. Huhtala, A.: Origin of myelinated nerves in the rat iris. Exp. Eye Res. (in press)Google Scholar
  17. Huhtala, A., Tervo, T., Huikuri, K.T., Palkama, A.: Effects of denervations on the acetylcholinesterase-containing and fluorescent nerves of the rat iris. Acta ophthal. (KbH.) (in press)Google Scholar
  18. Huikuri, K.T.: Histochemistry of the ciliary ganglion of the rat and the effect of pre- and postganglionic nerve division. Acta physiol. scand., Suppl. 286, 1–83 (1966)Google Scholar
  19. Koelle, G.B., Friedenwald, J.S.: A histochemical method of localizing cholinesterase activity. Proc. Soc. exp. Biol. (N.Y.) 70, 617 (1949)Google Scholar
  20. Koblick, D.C., Goldman, M.H., Pace, N.: Cholinesterase and active sodium transport in frog skin. Amer. J. Physiol. 203, 901–902 (1962)Google Scholar
  21. Laties, A.M.: Localization in cornea and lens of topically-applied irreversible cholinesterase inhibitors. Amer. J. Ophthal. 68, 848–857 (1969)Google Scholar
  22. Laties, A., Jacobowitz, D.: A histochemical study of the adrenergic and cholinergic innervation of the anterior segment of the rabbit eye. Invest. Ophthal. 3, 592–600 (1964)Google Scholar
  23. Laties, A.M., Jacobowitz, D.: A comparative study of the autonomic innervation of the eye in monkey, cat and rabbit. Anat. Rec. 156, 383–395 (1966)Google Scholar
  24. Lewis, P.R., Shute, C.C.D.: The distribution of cholinesterase in cholinergic neurons demonstrated with the electron microscope. J. Cell Sci. 1, 381–390 (1966)Google Scholar
  25. Lukáš, Z.: Personal communication (1975)Google Scholar
  26. Maurice, D.M.: The location of the fluid pump in the cornea. J. Physiol. (Lond.) 221, 43–54 (1972)Google Scholar
  27. Nachmansohn, D., Neumann, E.: Properties and function of proteins in excitable membranes: An integral model of nerve excitability. Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 227, 275–284 (1974)Google Scholar
  28. Petersen, R.A., Lee, K.-J., Donn, A.: Acetylcholinesterase in the rabbit cornea. Arch. Opthal. 73, 370–377 (1965)Google Scholar
  29. Robertson, D.M., Winkelmann, R.K.: A whole-mount cholinesterase technique for demonstrating corneal nerves: Observations in the albino rabbit. Invest. Ophthal. 9, 710–715 (1970)Google Scholar
  30. Ruskell, G.L.: Ocular fibres of the maxillary nerve in monkeys. J. Anat. (Lond.) 118, 195–203 (1974)Google Scholar
  31. Skangiel-Kramska, J., Niemierko, S.: Soluble and particle-bound acetylcholinesterase and its isoenzymes in peripheral nerves. J. Neurochem. 24, 1135–1141 (1975)Google Scholar
  32. Tervo, T., Palkama, A.: Electron microscopic localization of adenosine triphosphatase (NaK-ATPase) activity in the rat cornea. Exp. Eye Res. 21, 269–279 (1975)Google Scholar
  33. Tervo, T., Palkama, A.: Sympathetic nerves to the rat cornea. Acta ophthal. (KbH.) (in press)Google Scholar
  34. Williams, J.D., Cooper, J.R.: Acetylcholine in bovine corneal epithelium. Biochem. Pharmacol. 14, 1286–1289 (1965)Google Scholar
  35. Zander, E., Weddel, G.: Reaction of corneal nerve fibres to injury. Brit. J. Ophthal. 35, 61–97 (1951)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Timo Tervo
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnatomyUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

Personalised recommendations