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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Evidence for neurotransmitter plasticity in vivo. II. Immunocytochemical studies of rat sweat gland innervation during development.

Previous studies of the cholinergic sympathetic innervation of rat sweat glands provide evidence for a change in neurotransmitter phenotype from noradrenergic to cholinergic during development. To define further the developmental history of cholinergic sympathetic neurons, we have used immunocytochemical techniques to examine developing and mature sweat gland innervation for the presence of the catecholamine synthetic enzymes tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) and dopamine beta-hydroxylase (DBH) and for two neuropeptides present in the mature cholinergic innervation, vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) and calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP). In 7-day old animals, intensely TH- and DBH-immunoreactive axons were closely associated with the forming glands. The intensity of both the TH and DBH immunofluorescence decreased as the glands and their innervation developed. Neither TH-IR nor DBH-IR disappeared entirely; faint immunoreactivity for both enzymes was reproducibly detected in mature animals. In contrast to noradrenergic properties, the expression of peptide immunoreactivities appeared relatively late. No VIP-IR or CGRP-IR was detectable in the sweat gland innervation at 4 or 7 days. In some glands VIP-IR first appeared in axons at 10 days, and was evident in all glands by 14 days. CGRP-IR was detectable only after 14 days. In addition to VIP-IR and CGRP-IR, we examined the sweat gland innervation for several neuropeptides which have been described in noradrenergic sympathetic neurons including neuropeptide Y, somatostatin, substance P, and leu- and met-enkephalin; these peptides were not evident in either developing or mature sweat gland axons. Our observations provide further evidence for the early expression and subsequent modulation of noradrenergic properties in a population of cholinergic sympathetic neurons in vivo. In addition, the asynchronous appearance during development of the two neuropeptide immunoreactivities raises the possibility that the expression of peptide phenotypes may be controlled independently.[1]


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