Immunohistochemical characterization of neurons and neuronal processes in the dorsal vagal nucleus of the pig.
Retrograde tracing and immunocytochemistry were used to identify and map the distribution of substance P (SP) and its receptor (NK-1r) associated with gastric motor neurons in the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus (DMV) in the rat brain stem. The presence of peptide and receptor in surrounding regions within the dorsal vagal complex were also observed. Injection of the retrograde tracer Fluorogold (FG) into the greater curvature of the stomach produced bilateral labelling of neurons within the DMV. The majority of the NK-1r immunoreactivity appeared as an intricate lattice of fibres with a small number of immunoreactive cell bodies. The NK-1r-labelled fibres were detected within the DMV in close association with FG-labelled neurons and in the region between the DMV and nucleus of the solitary tract (NTS). A proportion of FG-labelled neuronal cell bodies were also labelled with NK-1r (7% of total). The greatest density of NK-1r-labelled fibres was observed at the rostral end of the FG-labelled neuron columns in the DMV (close to the IV ventricle) in the region where gastric vagal afferents terminate. Little NK-1r labelling was observed at the caudal end of the FG-labelled neuron tracts adjacent to the central canal. In the coronal plane, the NK-1r-labelled fibres were seen at the edges of the DMV extending into overlying NTS. Substance P was visualized as a dense network of fibres spanning the entire length of the DMV and in close association with FG-labelled neurons. Substance P staining was also detected in the NTS and in the ventral AP. Most of the association between SP/NK-1r immunoreactive fibres was observed within the DMV and at the border between the DMV and NTS. These findings suggest that SP directly regulates a subpopulation of efferent neurons in the DMV which project to the greater curvature of stomach.