Scanning electron microscopic studies of bullfrog sympathetic neurons exposed by enzymatic removal of connective tissue elements and satellite cells

J Neurocytol. 1986 Feb;15(1):85-95. doi: 10.1007/BF02057907.


The ninth and tenth abdominal sympathetic ganglia of bullfrogs were studied by light microscopy and transmission and scanning electron microscopy after the removal of the connective tissue elements overlying the neurons. Digestion of tissues with trypsin and subsequent acid hydrolysis exposed the unipolar neurons, which remained covered by their satellite cells. The preganglionic innervation was visible on the proximal segment and axon hillock region of the postganglionic neurite. Clusters of small cells seen at the periphery of ganglia probably corresponded to groups of cells with abundant catecholamine-containing granules (SIF cells). Digestion with collagenase and protease removed some or all of the satellite cells in addition to the connective tissue. The true neuronal surfaces had short finger-like processes, whereas the external surfaces of satellite cells were smooth. Preganglionic nerve varicosities were clearly visible on the proximal segment of the postganglionic neurite, on the axon hillock and on the cell body of neurons. A few axonal varicosities were fractured to reveal the synaptic vesicles within. The possible effects of the distribution and glial ensheathment of nerve varicosities on their function are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basement Membrane / metabolism
  • Connective Tissue / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Ganglia, Sympathetic / cytology
  • Ganglia, Sympathetic / ultrastructure*
  • Hydrolysis
  • Male
  • Microbial Collagenase*
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Neurons, Afferent / ultrastructure*
  • Rana catesbeiana
  • Trypsin*


  • Trypsin
  • Microbial Collagenase