Characterization of an immunofluorescence technique for the demonstration of coexisting neurotransmitters within nerve fibers and terminals

J Histochem Cytochem. 1985 Oct;33(10):984-94. doi: 10.1177/33.10.2413102.


Neurotransmitters have been shown to coexist in cell bodies, but demonstrating their coexistence within nerve fibers and terminals has been more difficult. However, two recent reports outlined a simple light-microscopic method by which two neurotransmitters can be shown to coexist in fibers and terminals. The method was identical to that used for immunohistochemical localization of one antigen, except that two primary--secondary antibody systems labeled with two different fluorochromes were used simultaneously. In the present study, a method for the simultaneous visualization of serotonin and substance P was characterized. This method employed an antiserum to serotonin generated in goat in combination with a rabbit-generated antiserum to substance P. These antisera were visualized with secondary antisera raised in swine and conjugated with rhodamine and fluorescein respectively. Spinal cord sections stained by this protocol showed large numbers of fibers fluorescing both red and green. Many of them were in the ventral horn, fewer were around the central canal, and virtually none were in the dorsal horn. The apparent double labeling could be shown not to be the result of cross-reactivity among the antisera, of any inappropriate affinity among the antisera, of green fluorescence by rhodamine, or of red fluorescence by fluorescein. It is concluded that the method provides a simple technique for visualizing fibers and terminals in which serotonin and substance P coexist.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibody Specificity
  • Brain Chemistry*
  • Fluorescein
  • Fluoresceins
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Immune Sera / immunology
  • Male
  • Nerve Endings / analysis*
  • Nerve Fibers / analysis*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Rhodamines
  • Serotonin / analysis*
  • Serotonin / immunology
  • Spinal Cord / analysis*
  • Substance P / analysis*
  • Substance P / immunology
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Fluoresceins
  • Immune Sera
  • Rhodamines
  • Serotonin
  • Substance P
  • Fluorescein