Localization of cholinergic innervation and neurturin receptors in adult mouse heart and expression of the neurturin gene


Neurturin (NRTN) is a neurotrophic factor required during development for normal cholinergic innervation of the heart, but whether NRTN continues to function in the adult heart is unknown. We have therefore evaluated NRTN expression in adult mouse heart and the association of NRTN receptors with intracardiac cholinergic neurons and nerve fibers. Mapping the regional distribution and density of cholinergic nerves in mouse heart was an integral part of this goal. Analysis of RNA from adult C57BL/6 mouse hearts demonstrated NRTN expression in atrial and ventricular tissue. Virtually all neurons in the cardiac parasympathetic ganglia exhibited the cholinergic phenotype, and over 90% of these cells contained both components of the NRTN receptor, Ret tyrosine kinase and GDNF family receptor α2 (GFRα2). Cholinergic nerve fibers, identified by labeling for the high affinity choline transporter, were abundant in the sinus and atrioventricular nodes, ventricular conducting system, interatrial septum, and much of the right atrium, but less abundant in the left atrium. The right ventricular myocardium contained a low density of cholinergic nerves, which were sparse in other regions of the working ventricular myocardium. Some cholinergic nerves were also associated with coronary vessels. GFRα2 was present in most cholinergic nerve fibers and in Schwann cells and their processes throughout the heart. Some cholinergic nerve fibers, such as those in the sinus node, also exhibited Ret immunoreactivity. These findings provide the first detailed mapping of cholinergic nerves in mouse heart and suggest that the neurotrophic influence of NRTN on cardiac cholinergic innervation continues in mature animals.

DOI: 10.1007/s00441-006-0215-3

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@article{Mabe2006LocalizationOC, title={Localization of cholinergic innervation and neurturin receptors in adult mouse heart and expression of the neurturin gene}, author={Abigail M. Mabe and Jennifer L. Hoard and Michelle M. Duffourc and Donald B. Hoover}, journal={Cell and Tissue Research}, year={2006}, volume={326}, pages={57-67} }