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Colocalisation of neuropeptides, nitric oxide synthase and immunomarkers for catecholamines in nerve fibres of the adult human vas deferens

  • P. Y. P. JEN (a1), J. S. DIXON (a1) and J. A. GOSLING (a1)

Abstract

Single and double-label immunofluorescence methods were used to determine the distribution and patterns of colocalisation of various neuropeptides and nitric oxide synthase (NOS) with the catecholamine synthesising enzymes tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) and dopamine-beta-hydroxylase (DβH) in nerve fibres within specimens of adult human vas deferens obtained at vasectomy (age range 28 to 83 y). Cholinergic nerve fibres were immunolabelled with an antiserum to vesicular acetylcholine transporter (VAChT). Using the general nerve marker protein gene product 9.5 (PGP) the density of intramural nerve fibres was found to be similar irrespective of age. Many of these axons, especially in the outer 2 muscle layers were TH and DbH-immunoreactive (IR) and were thus confirmed as noradrenergic. Fewer such axons were seen in the inner longitudinal muscle layer. All the noradrenergic nerve fibres also displayed NPY-immunoreactivity with minor populations containing galanin (GAL) or somatostatin (SOM). Nerve fibres lacking TH and DbH-IR were immunoreactive for VAChT and were sparsely distributed throughout the 2 outer muscle layers but more numerous in the inner muscle layer. Nerves lacking TH and DbH were immunoreactive for NPY and some also contained NOS, VIP or CGRP. These results have been compared with those obtained previously from specimens of human neonatal and infant vas deferens where, in contrast to the present results, NOS and VIP were shown to be colocalised with TH in many of the intramuscular nerve fibres. It thus appears that NOS and VIP cease their coexistence with TH in intramuscular nerve fibres of the human vas deferens between the pre- and postpubertal states. In addition to the intramuscular nerve fibres a VAChT-IR subepithelial nerve plexus occurs in the vas deferens and may control the secretory activity of the lining epithelium. Most of these subepithelial nerve fibres were immunoreactive for NPY and many also contained VIP while minor populations were immunoreactive for NOS, GAL, SOM or SP although fibres containing CGRP were not observed. The neuropeptide content of the subepithelial nerve plexus was similar to that observed in the infant, except for an increased density of VIP-IR nerves, which may reflect greater activity of the lining epithelial cells in the adult vas deferens.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Professor J. S. Dixon, Department of Anatomy, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong.

Keywords

Colocalisation of neuropeptides, nitric oxide synthase and immunomarkers for catecholamines in nerve fibres of the adult human vas deferens

  • P. Y. P. JEN (a1), J. S. DIXON (a1) and J. A. GOSLING (a1)

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