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C1 neurons in the rat rostral ventrolateral medulla differentially express vesicular monoamine transporter 2 in soma and axonal compartments


Dr A. M. Allen, as above.


Vesicular monoamine transporter 2 (VMAT2) packages biogenic amines into large dense core and synaptic vesicles for either somatodendritic or synaptic release from neurons of the CNS. Whilst the distribution of VMAT2 has been well characterized in many catecholaminergic cell groups, its localization amongst C1 adrenergic neurons in the medulla has not been examined in detail. Within the rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM), C1 neurons are a group of barosensitive, adrenergic neurons. Rostral C1 cells project to the thoracic spinal cord and are considered sympathetic premotor neurons. The majority of caudal C1 cells project rostrally to regions such as the hypothalamus. The present study sought to quantitate the somatodendritic expression of VMAT2 in C1 neurons, and to assess the subcellular distribution of the transporter. Immunoreactivity for VMAT2 occurred in 31% of C1 soma, with a high proportion of these in the caudal part of the RVLM. Retrograde tracing studies revealed that only two of 43 bulbospinal C1 neurons contained faint VMAT2-immunoreactivity, whilst 88 ± 5% of rostrally projecting neurons were VMAT2-positive. A lentivirus, designed to express green fluorescent protein exclusively in noradrenergic and adrenergic neurons, was injected into the RVLM to label C1 neurons. Eighty-three percent of C1 efferents that occurred in close proximity to sympathetic preganglionic neurons within the T3 intermediolateral cell column contained VMAT2-immunoreactivity. These data demonstrate differential distribution of VMAT2 within different subpopulations of C1 neurons and suggest that this might reflect differences in somatodendritic vs. synaptic release of catecholamines.