Immunocytochemical study of tyrosine hydroxylase and dopamine β-hydroxylase immunoreactivities in the rat pancreas

Research paper by Y. Oomori, H. Iuchi, K. Ishikawa, Y. Satoh, K. Ono

Indexed on: 01 Jun '94Published on: 01 Jun '94Published in: Histochemistry


An immunohistochemical and immunoelectron microscopic study was used to demonstrate tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) and dopamine β-hydroxylase (DBH) immunoreactivities in the rat pancreas. Small TH immunoreactive cells were found in close contact with large TH immunonegative ganglion cells among the exocrine glands and were occasionally found in some islets. Some of these TH immunoreactive cells were also DBH immunopositive. The immunoreaction product was seen diffusely in the cytoplasm and in the granule cores of TH immunoreactive cells. All intra-pancreatic ganglion cells were immunoreactive for DBH, but not for TH. The TH immunoreactive cells were identified as small intensely fluorescent (SIF) cells due to their localization and morphological characteristics and showed no insulin, glucagon, somatostatin or pancreatic polypeptide immunoreactivities. These results indicate that SIF cells may release dopamine or noradrenaline to adequate stimuli while the intra-pancreatic ganglion cells with only DBH may not synthesize catecholamines in a normal biosynthetic pathway. TH immunoreactive nerve bundles without varicosities and fibers with varicosities, associated or unassociated with blood vessels, were found in both the exocrine and endocrine pancreas. Close apposition of TH immunoreactive nerve fibers to the smooth muscle and endothelial cells of the blood vessels was observed. A close apposition between TH immunoreactive nerve fibers and exocrine acinar cells and islet endocrine cells was sometimes found in the pancreas. The immunoreaction product was seen diffusely in the axoplasm and in the granular vesicles of the immunoreactive nerve fibers. Since no TH immunoreactive ganglion cells were present in the rat pancreas, the present study suggests that noradrenergic nerve fibers in the pancreas may be extrinsic in origin, and may exert an effect on the regulation of blood flow and on the secretory acitivity of the acinar cells, duct cells and endocrine cells.