Noradrenergic and non-noradrenergic nerves containing small granular vesicles in Auerbach's plexus of the guinea-pig: evidence against the presence of noradrenergic synapses

Neuroscience. 1982;7(11):2925-36. doi: 10.1016/0306-4522(82)90115-4.


The appearance and distribution of varicosities containing small granular vesicles in Auerbach's plexus of the guinea-pig ileum, distal colon and rectum has been studied with the electron-microscope. Two types of varicosity were recognised. The first type was located predominantly at the surface of the plexus and did not form synapses on intrinsic neurons. This type became labelled with 5-hydroxydopamine, a specific marker for noradrenergic axons, and was destroyed by 6-hydroxydopamine and extrinsic denervation, procedures which lead to degeneration of noradrenergic nerves in the gut. The second type formed axodendritic and axosomatic synapses on intrinsic neurons and the morphology of its synaptic vesicles differed subtly from that of the first type. The second type was unaffected by 5-hydroxydopamine, 6-hydroxydopamine, or extrinsic denervation. It is concluded that the two types of small granular vesicle-containing varicosities belong to different neurons and that the first type is noradrenergic. Noradrenergic varicosities do not, therefore, form synapses in Auerbach's plexus. This conclusion is in accord with the electrophysiological findings. The second type of small granular vesicle-containing varicosity is not noradrenergic although it was formerly thought to be so. It is intrinsic to the gut and is resistant to the serotoninergic neurotoxin, 5,6-dihydroxytryptamine.

MeSH terms

  • 5,6-Dihydroxytryptamine / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Cytoplasmic Granules / ultrastructure
  • Denervation
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Hydroxydopamines / metabolism
  • Hydroxydopamines / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Myenteric Plexus / ultrastructure*
  • Oxidopamine
  • Synapses / ultrastructure


  • Hydroxydopamines
  • 5-hydroxydopamine
  • Oxidopamine
  • 5,6-Dihydroxytryptamine