The rat adrenal cortex has the uncommon ability to demonstrate morphological and functional regeneration after injury-induced loss of cortical tissue. Peripheral nerves are involved in tissue regeneration and healing after injury, implying that nerves may also be involved in modulating the regeneration of the adrenal cortex. Studies were initiated to assess changes in adrenal innervation during cortical tissue regeneration subsequent to adrenal enucleation. Innervation of regenerating adrenals was assessed from 3 to 62 days postenucleation by immunohistofluorescent detection of neuronal markers for primary afferent, preganglionic sympathetic, and postganglionic sympathetic fibers. The regenerating adrenal contained few nerves at 3 days postenucleation, but became differentially innervated, with extensive innervation by nerve fibers positive for calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), neuropeptide Y (NPY), and neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS). In contrast, there was only minimal innervation by nerve fibers positive for vasoactive intestinal peptide. By 14 days postenucleation, the CGRP-, TH-, and NPY-positive innervation included areas of hyperinnervation in the capsule, cortex, and central inflammatory site of the regenerating gland. In addition, many chromaffin cells were present at all time points postenucleation. Quantification of the regenerating gland content of CGRP, norepinephrine, epinephrine, and nNOS verified the immunohistofluorescent observations. The period of extensive innervation correlated temporally with the time (3-30 days) during which the regenerating glands recovered steroidogenic function. Moreover, splanchnic nerve transection at the time of adrenal enucleation decreased the innervation by CGRP-positive and vesicular acetylcholine transporter-positive fibers and delayed regeneration. These results support the hypothesis that adrenal innervation modulates tissue regeneration and functional recovery of the enucleated adrenal gland. Copyright (C) 2000 S. Karger AG, Basel.
- Adrenal medulla
- Calcitonin gene-related peptides
- Neuropeptide Y
- Tyrosine hydroxylase