Neurosecretory neurons of the hyperosmotically stressed hypothalamo-neurohypophysial system have been a useful model with which to demonstrate interrelationships among perikaryal lysosomes, agranular reticulum-like cisterns, endocytotic vacuoles, and the axoplasmic transport of acid hydrolases and horseradish peroxidase. Supraoptic neurons from normal mice and mice given 2% salt water to drink for 5–8 days have been studied using enzyme cytochemical techniques for peroxidase and lysosomal acid hydrolases. Peroxidase-labeling of these neurons was accomplished by intravenous injection or cerebral ventriculocisternal perfusion of the protein as previously reported (Broadwell and Brightman, '79).

Compared to normal controls, supraoptic cell bodies from hyperosmotically stimulated mice contained elevated concentrations of peroxidase-labeled dense bodies demonstrated to be secondary lysosomes and acid hydrolase-positive and peroxidase-positive cisterns either attached or unattached to secondary lysosomes. These cisterns were smooth-surfaced and 400–1,000 A wide. Their morphology was similar to that of the agranular reticulum. Some of the cisterns contained both peroxidase and acid hydrolase activities. The cisterns probably represent an elongated form of lysosome and, therefore, are not elements of the agranular reticulum per se. By virtue of their direct connections with perikaryal secondary lysosomes, these cisterns may provide the route by which acid hydrolases and exogenous macromolecules can leave perikaryal secondary lysosomes for anterograde flow down the axon. Very few smooth-surfaced cisterns were involved in the retrograde transport of peroxidase within pituitary stalk axons from normal and salt-treated mice injected intravenously with peroxidase. Peroxidase undergoing retrograde transport was predominantly in endocytotic structures such as vacuoles and cupshaped organelles, which deliver this exogenous macromolecule directly to secondary lysosomes for degradation in the cell body.

These observations extend our previously reported findings in the axon to the cell body and suggest that agranular reticulum-like cisterns in the perikaryon, like those in the axon, may be part of the lysosomal system rather than associated with the agranular reticulum. A diagram summarizing the lysosomal system of organelles and proposed transport of acid hydrolases and peroxidase in neurosecretory neurons specifically and in neurons in general is provided.