The medullary vagal motor nuclei, the nucleus ambiguus (NA) and dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus (DMV), innervate the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts. We conducted immunohistochemical analysis of expression of the androgen receptor (AR) and estrogen receptor α (ERα), in relation to innervation of the trachea and esophagus via vagal motor nuclei in mice. AR and ERα were expressed in the rostral NA and in part of the DMV. Tracing experiments using cholera toxin B subunit demonstrated that neurons of vagal motor nuclei that innervate the trachea and esophagus express AR and ERα. There was no difference in expression of sex steroid hormone receptors between trachea- and esophagus-innervating neurons. These results suggest that sex steroid hormones may act on vagal motor nuclei via their receptors, thereby regulating functions of the trachea and esophagus.
Keywords: dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus; esophagus; nucleus ambiguus; sex hormone receptors; trachea.