Mockett BG, Lapwood KR. Changes in ovine pineal gland neuron-specific enolase immunoreactivity following bilateral, but not unilateral, superior cervical ganglionectomy's. J. Pineal Res. 1994:16:202–209.
Pineal gland tissue from control and from unilaterally or bilaterally superior cervical ganglionectomized (SCGX) sheep was found to contain neuron-specific enolase immunoreactive cells and nerve fibers. Morphological characteristics of pineal cells exhibiting immunoreactivity indicated that they were predominantly pinealocytes, while other cell types were nonimmunoreactive. Whereas bilateral SCGX resulted in a reduction in the size, and possibly number, of immunoreactive cells in the pineal, unilateral denervation did not result in any significant effects when compared with control pineals. Concomitant with the reduction in immunoreactivity in bilaterally denervated pineals was a significant increase in the volume of interstitial space, but not the number of nonimmunoreactive cells. These results suggest that sympathetic nerve fibers innervating the pineal of unilaterally sympathectomized sheep exhibited a degree of neural plasticity that resulted in denervated pinealocytes being reinnervated by remaining intact nerve terminals, thus preventing the occurrence of degenerative changes normally associated with complete loss of neural input through bilateral denervation. The fact that in unilaterally denervated sheep neither left nor right SCGX produced any discernible effects in either half of the pineal indicates that nerve fibers from each of the ganglia cross over to innervate the contra lateral as well as the ipsilateral pineal half. In the stalk of the pineal an extensive network of immunoreactive nerve fibers was found in both the caudal and habenular commissars, and occasionally these fibers were observed to enter the body of both intact and sympathetically denervated pineals. This latter result suggests that the sympathetic innervation enters the pineal over its surface and not via the stalk.