Immunohistochemical characterisation of pelvic autonomic ganglia in male mice

Cell Tissue Res. 2003 Feb;311(2):175-85. doi: 10.1007/s00441-002-0673-1. Epub 2003 Jan 8.


Pelvic ganglia are mixed sympathetic-parasympathetic ganglia and provide the majority of the autonomic innervation to the urogenital organs. Here we describe the structural and histochemical features of the major pelvic ganglion in the male mouse and compare two different mouse strains. The basic structural features of the ganglion are similar to those in the male rat. Almost all pelvic ganglion cells are monopolar and most are cholinergic. All contain either neuropeptide Y (NPY) or vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP), or both peptides together. The peptide coexistence varies between strains, with C57BL/6 mice having similar proportions of neurons with NPY alone, VIP alone or both peptides. In contrast, virtually all pelvic neurons in the Quackenbush-Swiss (QS) strain express NPY, i.e. the level of VIP/NPY coexistence is much higher. Cholinergic axons provide the major nerve supply to epithelia of reproductive organs, bladder smooth muscle and, as described previously, penile erectile tissue. They also provide a minor component of the smooth muscle innervation of the prostate gland, seminal vesicles and vas deferens. Virtually all non-cholinergic pelvic ganglion cells are noradrenergic and contain NPY. Their major target is smooth muscle of reproductive organs. This study shows that the male mouse pelvic ganglion bears many similarities to that in the rat, but that VIP/NPY colocalisation is much more common in the mouse. We also show that there are differences in peptide expression in parasympathetic pelvic neurons between strains of mice. These studies provide the framework for future investigations on neural regulation of urogenital function, particularly in transgenic and knockout models.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ganglia, Autonomic / cytology
  • Ganglia, Autonomic / physiology*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Neuropeptide Y / metabolism*
  • Pelvis
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase / metabolism*
  • Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide / metabolism*


  • Neuropeptide Y
  • Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase