Presence and Co-Localization of Vasoactive Intestinal Polypeptide With Neuronal Nitric Oxide Synthase in Cells and Nerve Fibers Within Guinea Pig Intrinsic Cardiac Ganglia and Cardiac Tissue

Document Type


Publication Date



The presence of vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) has been analyzed in fibers and neurons within the guinea pig intrinsic cardiac ganglia and in fibers innervating cardiac tissues. In whole-mount preparations, VIP-immunoreactive (IR) fibers were present in about 70% of the cardiac ganglia. VIP was co-localized with neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) in fibers innervating the intrinsic ganglia but was not present in fibers immunoreactive for pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide, choline acetyltransferase (ChAT), tyrosine hydroxylase, or substance P. A small number of the intrinsic ChAT-IR cardiac ganglia neurons (approximately 3%) exhibited VIP immunoreactivity. These few VIP-IR cardiac neurons also exhibited nNOS immunoreactivity. After explant culture for 72 h, the intraganglionic VIP-IR fibers degenerated, indicating that they were axons of neurons located outside the heart. In cardiac tissue sections, VIP-IR fibers were present primarily in the atria and in perivascular connective tissue, with the overall abundance being low. VIP-IR fibers were notably sparse in the sinus node and conducting system and generally absent in the ventricular myocardium. Virtually all VIP-IR fibers in tissue sections exhibited immunoreactivity to nNOS. A few VIP-IR fibers, primarily those located within the atrial myocardium, were immunoreactive for both nNOS and ChAT indicating they were derived from intrinsic cardiac neurons. We suggest that, in the guinea pig, the majority of intraganglionic and cardiac tissue VTP-IR fibers originate outside of the heart. These extrinsic VIP-IR fibers are also immunoreactive for nNOS and therefore most likely are a component of the afferent fibers derived from the vagal sensory ganglia.