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Keywords:

  • adrenal gland;
  • GABA ;
  • GABAB-receptor;
  • ganglion cells;
  • rat

Abstract

The inhibitory effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the central and peripheral nervous systems and the endocrine system are mediated by two different GABA receptors: GABAA-receptor (GABAA-R) and GABAB-receptor (GABAB-R). GABAA-R, but not GABAB-R, has been observed in the rat adrenal gland, where GABA is known to be released. This study sought to determine whether both GABA and GABAB-R are present in the endocrine and neuronal elements of the rat adrenal gland, and to investigate whether GABAB-R may play a role in mediating the effects of GABA in secretory activity of these cells. GABA-immunoreactive nerve fibers were observed in the superficial cortex. Some GABA-immunoreactive nerve fibers were found to be associated with blood vessels. Double-immunostaining revealed GABA-immunoreactive nerve fibers in the cortex were choline acetyltransferase (ChAT)-immunonegative. Some GABA-immunoreactive nerve fibers ran through the cortex toward the medulla. In the medulla, GABA-immunoreactivity was seen in some large ganglion cells, but not in the chromaffin cells. Double-immunostaining also showed GABA-immunoreactive ganglion cells were nitric oxide synthase (NOS)-immunopositive. However, neither immunohistochemistry combined with fluorescent microscopy nor double-immunostaining revealed GABA-immunoreactivity in the noradrenaline cells with blue-white fluorescence or in the adrenaline cells with phenylethanolamine N-methyltransferase (PNMT)-immunoreactivity. Furthermore, GABA-immunoreactive nerve fibers were observed in close contact with ganglion cells, but not chromaffin cells. Double-immunostaining also showed that the GABA-immunoreactive nerve fibers were in close contact with NOS- or neuropeptide tyrosine (NPY)-immunoreactive ganglion cells. A few of the GABA-immunoreactive nerve fibers were ChAT-immunopositive, while most of the GABA-immunoreactive nerve fibers were ChAT-immunonegative. Numerous ChAT-immunoreactive nerve fibers were observed in close contact with the ganglion cells and chromaffin cells in the medulla. The GABAB-R-immunoreactivity was found only in ganglion cells in the medulla and not at all in the cortex. Immunohistochemistry combined with fluorescent microscopy and double-immunostaining showed no GABAB-R-immunoreactivity in noradrenaline cells with blue-white fluorescence or in adrenaline cells with PNMT-immunoreactivity. These immunoreactive ganglion cells were NOS- or NPY-immunopositive on double-immunostaining. These findings suggest that GABA from the intra-adrenal nerve fibers may have an inhibitory effect on the secretory activity of ganglion cells and cortical cells, and on the motility of blood vessels in the rat adrenal gland, mediated by GABA-Rs.