Transganglionic transport and binding of the isolectin B4 from Griffonia simplicifolia I in rat primary sensory neurons

Neuroscience. 1994 Sep;62(2):539-51. doi: 10.1016/0306-4522(94)90387-5.


The isolectin B4 from Griffonia simplicifolia I binds to a subpopulation of rat small-diameter dorsal root ganglion neurons, and to fibres and presumed terminals in laminae I-II of the spinal cord dorsal horn. In the present study we investigated B4 and B4 conjugated to horseradish peroxidase as potential transganglionic tracers of somatic primary afferent neurons after injection into a peripheral nerve. We also tried to identify the specific subpopulation of dorsal root ganglion neurons that bind and ganglion neurons that bind and transport B4. Following injection of B4 or B4-horseradish peroxidase into the sciatic nerve, labelled presumed terminals that reached peak labelling at two days were found exclusively in regions of the spinal cord gray matter known to receive unmyelinated primary afferent fibres. Almost all dorsal root ganglion cells that transported B4-horseradish peroxidase also bound B4. Cell counts showed that 51% of the dorsal root ganglion neurons were B4-positive and cell area measurements that these were all in the small size range. An extensive overlap was found between B4 and fluoride-resistant acid phosphatase (85%), and between B4 and calcitonin gene-related peptide (59%). Seventeen per cent of the B4-positive cells were substance P-immunoreactive and 9% were immunoreactive to somatostatin. Minimal overlap was seen between B4-positive cells and cells positive for RT97 (3%), a selective marker of primary afferent neurons with myelinated axons. All somatostatin-immunoreactive cells and almost all (95%) of the fluoride-resistant acid phosphatase-positive cells were contained within the B4-positive population. This comprised also 58% of the cells immunoreactive to calcitonin gene-related peptide and 42% of those immunoreactive to substance P. The results obtained show that B4 binds to a subpopulation of unmyelinated primary afferent neurons, and that B4 and B4-horseradish peroxidase can be used as selective transganglionic tracers of this specific cell subpopulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axonal Transport
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide / analysis
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Survival
  • Female
  • Ganglia, Spinal / anatomy & histology*
  • Ganglia, Spinal / cytology
  • Ganglia, Spinal / physiology
  • Horseradish Peroxidase
  • Lectins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / analysis
  • Neurons, Afferent / cytology*
  • Plant Lectins*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sciatic Nerve / anatomy & histology*
  • Sciatic Nerve / physiology
  • Somatostatin / analysis
  • Substance P / analysis


  • Biomarkers
  • Griffonia simplicifolia lectins
  • Lectins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Plant Lectins
  • Substance P
  • Somatostatin
  • Horseradish Peroxidase
  • Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide