Immunohistochemical Analysis of the Mouse Celiac Ganglion: An Integrative Relay Station of the Peripheral Nervous System

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Celiac ganglia are important sites of signal integration and transduction. Their complex neurochemical anatomy has been studied extensively in guinea pigs but not in mice. The goal of this study was to provide detailed neurochemical characterization of mouse celiac ganglia and noradrenergic nerves in two target tissues, spleen and stomach. A vast majority of mouse celiac neurons express a noradrenergic phenotype, which includes tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), vesicular monoamine transporter 2, and the norepinephrine transporter. Over 80% of these neuron also express neuropeptide Y (NPY), and this coexpression is maintained by dissociated neurons in culture. Likewise, TH and NPY were colocalized in noradrenergic nerves throughout the spleen and in stomach blood vessels. Somatostatin was not detected in principal neurons but did occur in small, TH-negative cells presumed to be interneurons and in a few varicose nerve fibers. Cholinergic nerves provided the most abundant input to the ganglia, and small percentages of these also contained nitric oxide synthase or vasoactive intestinal polypeptide. A low-to-moderate density of nerves also stained separately for the latter markers. Additionally, nerve bundles and varicose nerve fibers containing the sensory neuropeptides, calcitonin gene-related polypeptide, and substance P, occurred at variable density throughout the ganglia. Collectively, these findings demonstrate that principal neurons of mouse celiac ganglia have less neurochemical diversity than reported for guinea pig and other species but receive input from nerves expressing an array of neurochemical markers. This profile suggests celiac neurons integrate input from many sources to influence target tissues by releasing primarily norepinephrine and NPY.