Ultrastructural localization of substance P, met-enkephalin, and somatostatin immunoreactivity in lamina X of the primate spinal cord

Authors

  • Carole C. Lamotte,

    Corresponding author
    1. Section of Neurosurgery and Department of Anesthesiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06510
    • Section of Neurosurgery, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06510
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  • Christine M. Shapiro

    1. Section of Neurosurgery and Department of Anesthesiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06510
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Abstract

The ultrastructural localization of substance P (SP), met-enkephalin (MENK), and somatostatin (SS) in the lamina X area surrounding the central canal of the macaque monkey was examined by the indirect peroxidase-antiperoxidase method. The most common synaptic terminals in lamina X were simple terminals (S) with small rounded or pleomorphic clear vesicles: one to two dense-core vesicles were occasionally also present. These were found on soma, dendrites, and dendritic spines, in all regions of lamina X. A second class of terminal with round or oval clear vesicles was glomerular (G) in shape, with scalloped edges, and contained many mitochondria. These large terminals had several synaptic contacts onto dendrites, spines, and small terminals and were found mainly in the lateral region. The third class (L) contained small clear vesicles and several vesicles with large, dense cores (100–125 nm), and also contacted dendrites, mainly lateral to the canal. The fourth class of terminal (D) contained small clear vesicles and several vesicles with small, dense cores (75–100 nm): these contacted dendrites and somata in all areas. Very few terminals with fiat vesicles were identified. There was an unequal distribution of immunoreactivity among the several terminal classes identified in lamina X. Most SP terminals were S terminals, but SP L terminals were also common: few were D terminals. MENK terminals were usually either S terminals or D terminals: L terminals were rarely MENK positive. SS terminals were commonly D terminals or S terminals: L terminals were also rarely SS positive. Only SP terminals were identified as G terminals. Synaptic targets of SP, MENK, and SS terminals were most commonly dendrites. In addition to unlabelled neurons, peptidergic neurons and their processes were also synaptic targets of terminals containing the same peptide. The distributions of these peptides in primate lamina X differ from that of the same peptides in primate superficial dorsal horn. These differences are important, in consideration of some of the parallels that may be drawn between the lamina X area and the superficial dorsal horn: both areas have high concentrations of the same peptides, receive nociceptive primary afferents, and contain spinothalamic and other projection neurons. Nevertheless, comparison of the distribution of immunoreactivity among terminal classes indicates that neurochemical organization at the ultrastructural level is quite distinct in each of the two areas. This may also reflect other roles of the lamina X area, including its involvement in visceral functions, although it would be expected that this element might be less prominent at the cervical levels we investigated.

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