, Volume 52, Issue 4, pp 281–306 | Cite as

Intracisternal neurotoxins and monoamine neurons innervating the spinal cord: Acute and chronic effects on cell and axon counts and nerve terminal densities

  • L. -G. Nygren
  • L. Olson


The total number of catecholamine (CA) and 5-hydroxy-trydroxy-tryptamine (5-HT) containing nerve cell bodies in groups A1-7 and B1-3 were counted using Falck-Hillarp fluorescence histochemistry and found to be about 5000 and about 6300 respectively. The total number of CA axons in the white matter of the spinal cord was found to be about 4300 at the cervical level and about 3300 at the lumbar level as revealed in cryostat sections. Together with previous studies our quantitative results suggest that individual cell bodies in locus coeruleus send axon collaterals to the spinal cord, cortex cerebri, cortex cerebelli and probably also other areas of the brain.

The decrease in number of CA axons in spinal cord occurred approximately at the level where the CA nerve terminal innervation of the sympathetic lateral column ends. Single CA axons were observed to give off multiple branches at right angles, suggesting that single CA axons innervate several different levels of the grey matter.

A transient loss of visible CA cell bodies in groups A1-7 was observed after intracisternal injection of 25–50 μg 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OH-DA). A permanent loss of visible 5-HT cell bodies in groups B1-3 was observed after 25 μg 5,6-dihydroxy-tryptamine (5,6-HT) given intracisternally, a transient decrease was obtained when the same dose of 5,6-HT was given intraventricularly.

CA nerve terminals regenerated in a cranio-caudal direction along the motoneuron columns after lesioning with 6-OH-DA given intracisternally. The reappearing CA nerve terminals seemed to outline the longitudinally oriented dendritic bundles of the motoneurons and was exclusively found in these areas of the ventral horn. Thus, no substantial CA nerve terminal reinnervation of zona intermedia or the dorsal horn was observed. About 10% of the CA axons running in white matter were left after intracisternal 6-OH-DA and found at all levels of the cord. The number of remaining CA axons did not increase with time.

After 10–50 μg 5,6-HT given intracisternally a return of 5-HT nerve terminals was only observed in cervical segments. There was a 60–90% decrease in number of axons that accumulated 5-HT after an acute transverse lesion and no recovery of the number of such accumulations was observed during the following six months.

It was concluded that regeneration of CA nerve terminals in the spinal cord can occur after lesioning with 6-OH-DA given intracisternally. Regeneration of 5-HT nerve terminals following intracisternal 5,6-HT is very restricted probably because of the permanent loss of 5-HT cell bodies obtained by the intracisternal route of administration as opposed to the intraventricular route. It was suggested that the reappearing CA nerve terminals were derived from locus coeruleus and that they were specifically guided by the motoneuron columns.


Spinal Cord Locus Coeruleus Ventral Horn Nerve Cell Body Permanent Loss 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. -G. Nygren
    • 1
  • L. Olson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of HistologyKarolinska InstituteStockholm 60Sweden

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