Comprehensive immunofluorescence and lectin binding analysis of vibrissal follicle sinus complex innervation in the mystacial pad of the rat

J Comp Neurol. 1997 Aug 25;385(2):149-84.


The innervation of the vibrissal follicle sinus complexes (FSCs) in the mystacial pad of the rat was examined by lectin binding histofluorescence with the B subunit of Griffonia simplicifolia (GSA) and by immunofluorescence with a wide variety of antibodies for neuronal related structural proteins, enzymes, and peptides. Only anti-protein gene product 9.5 labeled all sets of innervation. Several types of mechanoreceptors were distributed to specific different targets by medium to large caliber myelinated axons. All were positive for 200 kDa neurofilament subunit, peripherin, and carbonic anhydrase. Their endings expressed synaptophysin. Labeling for the 160 kDa neurofilament subunit, calbindin, and parvalbumin varied. Anti-Schwann cell protein S100 was completely co-extensive with the axons, terminal arbors, and endings of the mechanoreceptor afferents including Merkel innervation. At least 15 different sets of unmyelinated innervation were evident based upon distribution and labeling characteristics. They consisted of four basic types: 1) peptidergic; 2) GSA binding; 3) peptidergic and GSA binding; and 4) nonpeptidergic and GSA negative (peptide-/GSA-). Previous studies had not revealed that several major sets of unmyelinated innervation were peptide-/GSA-. The unmyelinated innervation had detectable peripherin but not 160 kDa or 200 kDa neurofilament subunits. GSA-positive axons uniquely lacked anti-S100 immunoreactivity. The dense circumferentially oriented unmyelinated innervation of the inner conical body contained major sets of peptide-/GSA- and GSA innervation as well as a smaller peptidergic GSA component. A small contingent of sympathetic and possibly parasympathetic innervation was affiliated with microvasculature in the FSCs. This study confirms and refutes some previous hypotheses about biochemical and morphological relationships between peripheral innervation and sensory ganglion cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Direct
  • Ganglia, Sensory / anatomy & histology
  • Lectins / pharmacology
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Vibrissae / innervation*


  • Lectins