Autonomic nerves, mast cells, and amine receptors in human brain vessels. A histochemical and pharmacological study

Brain Res. 1976 Oct 22;115(3):377-93. doi: 10.1016/0006-8993(76)90356-5.


The studies were performed on operation material from 17- to 63-year-old patients and on fetuses at 19-23 weeks gestational age. Formaldehyde histofluorescence showed the presence of numerous perivascular adrenergic nerves around pial and intracerebral vessels, the carotid system being better supplied than the vertebral system. Cholinergic nerves, visualized by the cholinesterase technique, followed the adrenergic fibers in the plexus formations of the pial arterial system. Histamine-containing mast cells, often with a perivascular distribution, were located with the o-phthaldiadehyde method. Transmural electrical stimulation of the perivascular nerves contracted isolated pieces of pial arteries in a frequency-dependent manner, and the response was inhibited by the adrenergic nerve blocking agent, guanethidine. On the basis of the relative potency of various amines and related compounds in producing a motor response of isolated pial arteries, and the mode of inhibition caused by specific antagonists, various amine receptors could be demonstrated: adrenergic alpha-receptors (mediating contraction) and beta-receptors (dilation), cholinergic muscarinic receptors (dilation) and histamine H2-receptors (mediating dilation). Thus, the amine mechanisms demonstrated in human brain vessels appear to be principally the same of those shown in more extensive studies on laboratory animals.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholinesterase / analysis
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Autonomic Agents / pharmacology
  • Biogenic Amines / metabolism
  • Burimamide / pharmacology
  • Cerebral Arteries / anatomy & histology*
  • Cerebral Arteries / drug effects
  • Cerebral Arteries / physiology
  • Cocaine / pharmacology
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Fetus
  • Histamine / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Mast Cells*
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Contraction / drug effects
  • Muscle, Smooth / physiology
  • Pia Mater / blood supply
  • Receptors, Histamine H2
  • Receptors, Neurotransmitter*
  • Sympathetic Nervous System*


  • Autonomic Agents
  • Biogenic Amines
  • Receptors, Histamine H2
  • Receptors, Neurotransmitter
  • Histamine
  • Acetylcholinesterase
  • Cocaine
  • Burimamide