Substance P immunoreactive nerve terminals in the dorsolateral nucleus of the tractus solitarius: Roles in the baroreceptor reflex

V. John Massari, MacHiko Shirahata, Tannis A. Johnson, Jean Marie Lauenstein, Philip J. Gatti

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Physiological and light microscopic evidence suggest that substance P (SP) may be a neurotransmitter contained in first-order sensory baroreceptor afferents; however, ultrastructural support for this hypothesis is lacking. We have traced the central projections of the carotid sinus nerve (CSN) in the cat by utilizing the transganglionic transport of horseradish peroxidase (HRP). The dorsolateral subnucleus of the nucleus tractus solitarius (dlNTS) was processed for the histochemical visualization of transganglionically labeled CSN afferents and for the immunocytochemical visualization of SP by dual labeling light and electron microscopic methods. Either HRP or SP was readily identified in single-labeled unmyelinated axons, myelinated axons, and nerve terminals in the dlNTS. SP immunoreactivity was also identified in unmyelinated axons, myelinated axons, and nerve terminals in the dlNTS, which were simultaneously identified as CSN primary afferents. However, only 15% of CSN terminals in the dlNTS were immunoreactive for SP. Therefore, while the ultrastructural data support the hypothesis that SP immunoreactive first- order neurons are involved in the origination of the baroreceptor reflex, they suggest that only a modest part of the total sensory input conveyed from the carotid sinus baroreceptors to the dlNTS is mediated by SP immunoreactive CSN terminals. Five types of axo-axonic synapses were observed in the dlNTS. SP immunoreactive CSN afferents were very rarely involved in these synapses. Furthermore, SP terminals were never observed to form the presynaptic element in an axo-axonic synapse with a CSN afferent. Therefore, SP does not appear to be involved in the modulation of the baroreceptor reflex in the dlNTS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)329-340
Number of pages12
JournalBrain Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2 1998



  • Baroreceptor
  • Carotid sinus nerve
  • Chemoreceptor
  • Histochemistry
  • Immunocytochemistry
  • Synapse
  • Transganglioni c transport
  • Ultrastructure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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