Topography and immunocytochemical characterization of nerve fibers in the leptomeningeal compartments of the rat. A light- and electron-microscopical study

Cell Tissue Res. 1997 Jan;287(1):11-22. doi: 10.1007/s004410050728.


The localization of peptidergic, catecholaminergic, and nitroxidergic nerve fibers in the ventral leptomeningeal connective tissue compartment was studied in whole-mount preparations and serial semithin and ultrathin sections. For immunocytochemistry, whole-mount preparations of the leptomeninges and ventral brain slices with the meninges were incubated as free-floating specimens with primary antibodies against protein gene product 9.5 (PGP 9.5), substance P (SP), calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), dopamine beta-hydroxylase (DbetaH), vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP), neuropeptide Y (NPY), and nitric oxide synthase (NOS) using the avidin-biotin-peroxidase method. Based on the regional differences of the connective tissue organization, the leptomeninx is subdivided into the pial, trabecular, and adventitial leptomeninx. The antibody PGP 9.5 stains all unmyelinated nerve fibers in the leptomeninx. Although the highest density of nerve fibers occurs in the adventitial leptomeninx, nerve fibers, and terminals are additionally present in the trabecular and pial leptomeninx. DbetaH-, NPY-, VIP- and NOS-immunoreactive (IR) nerve fibers occur exclusively in the adventitial leptomeninx forming neuromuscular junctions. CGRP- and SP-IR nerve fibers are localized in all three leptomeningeal compartments where they terminate close to the subarachnoid space (type 1) or within the connective tissue (type 2). Due to their morphological and immunocytochemical characterization a possible chemo-, mechano- or nociceptive function is discussed in the context of pathophysiological aspects.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / ultrastructure*
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Microscopy
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Nerve Fibers / metabolism*
  • Nerve Fibers / ultrastructure*
  • Neuropeptides / metabolism
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Neuropeptides
  • Neurotransmitter Agents