Cocaine- and amphetamine-related transcript peptide and somatostatin in rat intracardiac ganglia.
The distribution of somatostatin and cocaine and amphetamine-regulated transcript (CART) was investigated in rat intracardiac ganglia. Somatostatin immunoreactivity was only present in nerve terminals, always colocalised with choline acetyltransferase immunoreactivity, surrounding approximately 10% of intracardiac neurons. Somatostatin-immunoreactive terminals particularly targeted intrinsic cardiac neurons that were immunoreactive for calbindin. Somatostatin was also present in sympathetic cholinergic neurons in the stellate ganglia, but could not be detected in neurons of the nucleus ambiguus and dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus in the brainstem. CART immunoreactivity was present in 46% of intracardiac neuronal somata, including those that expressed either NOS or calbindin immunoreactivity but was never present in terminals forming pericellular baskets around intracardiac neurons. CART immunoreactivity was absent from sympathetic cell bodies in the stellate ganglia, but was present in nerve terminals around sympathetic neurons. Based on the results of this study, additional chemical diversity was identified among elements of the rat cardiac nervous system that may define neural pathways of different function.