NF-L and peripherin immunoreactivities define distinct classes of rat sensory ganglion cells

J Neurosci Res. 1991 Sep;30(1):92-104. doi: 10.1002/jnr.490300111.


Double immunofluorescence studies using antibodies against NF-L and peripherin revealed three distinct subpopulations of neurons in rat dorsal root ganglia (DRG). In the adult rat, 46% of the DRG neurons were small and peripherin-positive (NF-L-negative), and 48% were large and NF-L-positive (peripherin-negative). About 6% were both peripherin- and NF-L-positive. All of the DRG neurons reacted with antibodies to NF-M and nonphosphorylation-dependent or phosphorylation-independent antibodies to NF-H. The neuropeptides were predominantly found in the peripherin-positive small cell population. Eighty-seven percent of the peripherin-positive small cell population contained substance P immunoreactivity, while 43% of this cell population contained CGRP. In contrast, only 18-24% of the NF-L-positive large-cell population contained neuropeptides, and these were primarily in a smaller sized subpopulation. Similar patterns of antigen representation were observed in neonatal (PN2) DRG cell populations. Tissue cultures of sensory ganglion cells from PN2 DRG, in serum-free medium, stably maintained exclusively peripherin-positive neurons, with about 5% of these containing coexistent NF-L immunoreactivity. Very high levels of neuropeptide gene expression were exhibited by these postnatal neurons in culture.

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide / analysis
  • Cell Survival
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Ganglia, Spinal / cytology*
  • Ganglia, Spinal / growth & development
  • Ganglia, Spinal / ultrastructure
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Intermediate Filament Proteins / analysis*
  • Intermediate Filaments / ultrastructure*
  • Membrane Glycoproteins*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins*
  • Neurofilament Proteins / analysis*
  • Neurons, Afferent / cytology*
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology
  • Neurons, Afferent / ultrastructure
  • Neuropeptides / analysis
  • Peripherins
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains


  • Intermediate Filament Proteins
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Neurofilament Proteins
  • Neuropeptides
  • Peripherins
  • neurofilament protein L
  • Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide