Dopamine β-hydroxylase-like immunoreactivity in the rat and cat carotid body: a light and electron microscopic study

Research paper by I. -Li Chen, John T. Hansen, Robert D. Yates

Indexed on: 01 Feb '85Published on: 01 Feb '85Published in: Journal of neurocytology


Immunocytochemical localization of dopamine β-hydroxylase (DBH) was used to study the synthesis and storage sites of norepinephrine (noradrenaline) in the rat and cat carotid bodies. In the rat carotid body some parenchymal cells exhibited strong DBH-like immunoreactivity (DBH-I), while others displayed only faint DBH-I. In a typical parenchymal cell cluster, most cells with strong DBH-I were irregular in shape and appeared to partially surround those with weak DBH-I which usually were rounded in contour. In the cat carotid body most parenchymal cells showed a strong to moderate DBH-I. In both the rat and cat carotid bodies varicose nerve fibres with DBH-I were associated primarily with blood vessels. All autonomic ganglion cells examined, which were associated with the rat carotid body, showed DBH-I. Electron microscopy revealed that most DBH-I in the strongly positive cells of the rat carotid body was associated with dense granules (possibly corresponding to dense-cored vesicles of various sizes), although some was found in other sites. In oval cells with less DBH-I, reactivity resided in some of the large granules. In the cat carotid body the glomus cells contained more granules of various sizes and shapes than did those of the rat carotid body. Most of the cat glomus cell granules exhibited DBH-I activity. Our results indicate that some of glomus cells in the rat and most of the glomus cells in the cat contain DBH and therefore may be sites of norepinephrine synthesis.