Monoaminergic and Peptidergic Innervation of the Intermedio-Lateral Horn of the Spinal Cord

Eur J Neurosci. 1990;2(5):430-450. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.1990.tb00435.x.


In the rat the monoaminergic and neuropeptidergic innervation of the sympathetic visceral nuclei of the entire thoracic spinal cord has been analysed in serial horizontal sections using immunocytochemistry. Tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), Phenyl-ethanolamine-N-methyl-transferase (PNMT), 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT), substance P (SP) and enkephalin (ENK) immunoreactive (IR) nerve terminals form tufts of plexa with strong IR in the principal part of the intermediolateral nucleus (ILp) with the terminals in an extraperikaryal location. High densities of these strongly IR terminals are also found in the principal part of the intercalated nucleus (ICp) and in the paraependymal part of the intercalated nucleus (ICpe). The various types of IR nerve terminals also form rostro-caudally oriented and latero-medially oriented strands of strongly IR nerve terminals at regular intervals within each segment. Outside these sympathetic nuclei the terminals are absent or only weakly to moderately IR. The similar pattern of monoamine and peptide innervation of the putative preganglionic sympathetic neurons along the entire thoracic spinal cord may be related to the general three dimensional architecture of the preganglionic multipolar neurons. Thus, these inputs tend to cover the entire surface area of the preganglionic neurons in a uniform way. Some heterogeneities have been observed for the TH, PNMT and neuropeptide Y (NPY) innervation which may contribute to a differential control of sympathetic preganglionic neurons. It is suggested that the unique features of the descending monoaminergic or peptidergic neurons to sympathetic spinal nuclei are related to a demand for maintained transmission upon prolonged activation in these cardiovascular systems, allowing the maintenance of cardiovascular homeostasis.