Small primary sensory neurons innervating epidermis and viscera display differential phenotype in the adult rat

Neurosci Res. 2001 Dec;41(4):355-63. doi: 10.1016/s0168-0102(01)00293-0.


Target tissues contribute to the phenotype and function of sensory neurons. Due to lack of appropriate markers for trkA expressing sensory axons and terminals, the detailed peripheral projection of these neurons is unclear. In this study, the peripheral projections of trkA immunoreactive neurons are characterized using the combined techniques of immunohistochemistry and retrograde tracing. We found approximately 65% of all neurons projecting to the adrenal gland and kidney are trkA immunoreactive, whereas 6, 14 and 37% of neurons innervating whisker follicle, epidermis and footpad, respectively, are immunoreactive for trkA. A low proportion of trkA immunoreactive neurons innervating epidermis indicates that the majority of sensory neurons innervating epidermis are independent of trkA signalling for their normal function. We further investigated whether these epidermal projecting neurons can bind isolectin IB4. We found approximately 70% of all neurons innervating epidermis are IB4 binding neurons, but they did not express trkA. Thus, NGF sensitive neurons primarily project to viscera but not epidermis or other skin structures, whereas IB-4 positive neurons primarily project to epidermis in the adult rat.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Glands / innervation
  • Afferent Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Amidines
  • Animals
  • Biomarkers
  • Coloring Agents
  • Epidermis / innervation*
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Foot / innervation
  • Kidney / innervation
  • Lectins / metabolism
  • Muscles / innervation
  • Nerve Growth Factor / physiology
  • Neurons, Afferent / chemistry
  • Neurons, Afferent / classification*
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Phenotype
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptor, trkA / analysis
  • Receptors, Mitogen / metabolism
  • Stilbamidines*
  • Vibrissae / innervation
  • Viscera / innervation*


  • 2-hydroxy-4,4'-diamidinostilbene, methanesulfonate salt
  • Amidines
  • Biomarkers
  • Coloring Agents
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Lectins
  • Receptors, Mitogen
  • Stilbamidines
  • diamidino compound 253-50
  • Nerve Growth Factor
  • Receptor, trkA