Sympathetic preganglionic neurons (SPNs) in the intermediolateral (IML) and dorsal commissural nucleus (DCN) of the thoracolumbar segments of the spinal cord contribute to the autonomic control of the pelvic visceral organs. We examined the morphology of these neurons at the light and electron microscopic level and quantified the boutons apposing the soma and proximal dendrites of the SPNs innervating the major pelvic ganglion (MPG) in female rats. The majority of these cells resided in the DCN (61.6 ± 6.2%) and IML (33.2 ± 4.4%) nuclei. Measurements of cell volume and shape revealed no differences between SPNs sampled from the DCN and IML populations. Ultrastructural studies of DCN and IML SPNs revealed that coverage of SPNs by synaptic inputs is sparse, with an average of 11.60 ± 2.41% of the soma membrane and 16.33 ± 6.18% of proximal dendrites apposed by boutons, though some somata exhibited no synaptic coverage. Three distinct types of boutons were found to appose the SPN somata and dendrites. The putatively inhibitory F-type bouton covered a significantly greater percentage of membrane on the soma (8.48 ± 2.12%) and dendrites (12.65 ± 4.34%), than the S-type bouton, a putatively excitatory bouton, which only covered 2.94 ± 0.70% of the somatic and 3.68 ± 2.98% of the dendritic membranes. Boutons with dense-core vesicles were rare. Our results demonstrate that SPNs of the DCN and IML of female rats are similar morphologically, and that synaptic input on these cells, though sparse, is predominantly inhibitory.
|Number of pages||14|
|State||Published - 16 Aug 2012|
- Electron microscopy
- Retrograde tracing
- Spinal cord