Effect of cervical vagotomy on catecholaminergic neurons in the cranial division of the parasympathetic nervous system

D. A. Ruggiero, L. Chau, M. Anwar, E. P. Mtui, E. V. Golanov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


This study provides evidence of catecholaminergic neurons in the cranial division of the parasympathetic nervous system. Presumptive catecholaminergic preganglionic neurons in the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus (DMX) were revealed by a clearcut depletion of intracellular catecholamine-synthesizing enzyme immunoreactivity induced by unilateral cervical vagotomy and identified on tissues immunocytochemically processed for tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), dopamine β-hydroxylase (DβH) or phenylethanolamine N-methyltransferase (PNMT). This experimental design was essential because of the recent failure in two species to reproduce data previously obtained in double-label (combined immunocytochemical-retrograde transport) studies. Vagotomy data confirmed three spatially-segregated populations of catecholaminergic visceromotor neurons in the DMX. These cell bodies were morphologically identical to preganglionic neurons observed on alternate tissues stained for Nissl substance or immunostained for choline acetyltransferase (ChAT), the enzyme biosynthesizing acetylcholine. Neurons in the central and medial DMX demonstrated fall-off of TH-like immunoreactivity (LI) ipsilateral to the vagotomy at levels caudal to the obex. This cell group is assumed to be predominantly dopaminergic since relatively few neurons at this level of the DMX expressed DβH-LI and none were immunostained for PNMT. A second population of immunoreactive neurons, concentrated in the rostral-lateral region of the DMX, was depleted of DβH-LI on the ipsilateral side but did not express PNMT. These visceromotor neurons may, therefore, biosynthesize noradrenaline and belong to the rostral pole of the A2 area. A third population of presumptive adrenergic vagal dorsomotor neurons in the rostral-medial DMX was depleted of TH-, DβH- and PNMT-LI at levels of the ipsilateral nucleus anterior to obex. Patterns of depletion of cytoplasmic enzyme-immunoreaction product were identical in all cases irrespective of the site of the transection or the postoperative survival period. Quantitative analysis demonstrated statistically significant loss of immunolabeled neurons in rostral and caudal subgroups of the DMX on the side ipsilateral to the vagotomy. It is concluded that catecholaminergic processes in the vagus nerve, as previously identified by the aldehyde-induced histofluorescence method, may partly arise from the lower brainstem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-27
Number of pages11
JournalBrain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 16 1993


  • Catecholaminergic enzyme
  • Cervical vagotomy
  • Choline acetyltransferase
  • Medulla oblongata
  • Vagus nerve

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Effect of cervical vagotomy on catecholaminergic neurons in the cranial division of the parasympathetic nervous system'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this