Histochemical localisation of a galactose-containing glycoconjugate expressed by sensory neurones innervating different peripheral tissues in the rat

J Peripher Nerv Syst. 2005 Mar;10(1):47-57. doi: 10.1111/j.1085-9489.2005.10108.x.


The plant lectin Bandeiraea simplicifolia I-isolectin B4 (BSI-B4) identifies a galactose-containing, membrane-associated glycoconjugate expressed by a discrete subpopulation of unmyelinated primary sensory neurones in the rat. We have previously suggested that BSI-B4 selectively binds to primary sensory neurones that innervate the skin. However, in that study, the tracer diamidino yellow was applied to the cut ends of peripheral nerves to identify neurones innervating particular target tissues. In this study, we have avoided axotomy by retrogradely labelling primary sensory neurones from peripheral tissues using the carbocyanine dye 1,1'-dioctadecyl-3,3,3',3'-tetramethylindocarbacyanine perchlorate (DiI). DiI was injected into the plantar skin, gastrocnemius muscle, and pyloric region of the stomach in rats. Corresponding ganglia were sectioned, incubated in BSI-B4 conjugated to fluorescein isothiocyanate, and examined with a fluorescence microscope. DiI-labelled cells were identified by red fluorescence within the cytoplasm, whereas cells binding BSI-B4 displayed green fluorescence associated with the plasma membrane and Golgi apparatus. Quantitative analysis revealed that 36.2% of cutaneous neurones, 7.6% of muscle neurones, and 6.8% of visceral neurones expressed the BSI-B4-binding site, indicating that a small but significant proportion of small-diameter primary sensory neurones innervating muscle and viscera also express BSI-B4-binding sites.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Galactose / metabolism*
  • Ganglia, Spinal / metabolism
  • Glycoproteins / metabolism*
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Muscle, Skeletal / innervation
  • Neurons, Afferent / metabolism*
  • Plant Lectins
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Skin / innervation
  • Staining and Labeling
  • Stomach / innervation


  • Glycoproteins
  • Plant Lectins
  • Galactose