Neurotensin immunoreactivity was identified in cell bodies, dendrites, spines, axons, terminals and varicosities in superficial laminae of rat spinal cord with the electron microscope. Unlabeled terminals synapsed with neurotensin-immunoreactive cell bodies, dendrites and spines. Presynaptic terminals contained round or pleomorphic vesicles and generally made symmetrical contacts with medium-sized neurotensin-containing dendrites in outer lamina II, and asymmetrical or symmetrical contacts with large and small dendrites and spines in inner lamina II. Neurotensin immunoreactive axons were unmyelinated, and their terminals were presynaptic to unlabeled dendrites and spines in laminae I and II. Terminals contained small, round, clear vesciles (31 nm) and occasional large granular vesicles (78 nm). Contacts in outer lamina II were evenly distributed among dendrites of various sizes and spines, whereas the majority of labeled terminals in inner lamina II made contacts onto small dendrites and spines. These findings indicate that neurotensin effects in rat spinal cord are mediated by axodendritic synapses, and that neurotensin cells at the inner and outer borders of lamina II contact dendrites of efferent neurons or other interneurons in the dorsal horn.
- Dorsal horn
- Spinal cord