• spinal nerve roots;
  • blood vessels;
  • radicular vessels;
  • immunohistochemistry;
  • plasma proteins

Abstract The presence of plasma proteins in the spinal nerve roots of normal rats was investigated using an avidin-biotin peroxidase technique on formaldehyde-fixed, paraffin-embedded material. Sections from the roots, exposed to a rabbit-anti rat albumin antiserum showed widespread, intense immunoreactivity which filled the spaces between the nerve fibers. The reaction product usually ended at the junction between the roots and the spinal cord. The sheath enclosing the roots showed the same strong immuno-reaction. There was also a marked reaction in the dorsal root ganglia and peripheral nerve. Spinal cord sections, however, showed no extracellular reactivity, but many motor neurons of the ventral horn were distinctly positive, presumably the result of a normally occurring retrograde axonal transport from the periphery. Parallel sections from the roots exposed to rabbit anti rat IgG antiserum, rabbit anti rat IgM antiserum, rabbit anti human fibrinogen antiserum and rabbit anti human fibronectin antiserum revealed no positive immunoreaction. Thus, rat spinal nerve roots normally contain material with albumin antigenic properties. This would indicate that albumin is present in the extracellular fluid of the roots in the same way as in the endoneurium of peripheral nerves. The fluid microenvironment of the roots, therefore, appears to be different from that in the CNS which lacks extracellular albumin due to the impermeability of the blood-brain barrier.