We report here the neurotransmitter characteristics of neurons cultured from the same ganglia of fetal and embryonic guinea-pigs. Both the celiac ganglion and the superior mesenteric ganglion were examined. In a previous paper we described the neurotransmitter properties of adult guinea-pig prevertebral sympathetic neurons grown in dissociated cell culture, including the expression by these cells of immunoreactivity for tyrosine hydroxylase, neuropeptide Y and somatostatin. Tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactivity was ubiquitously expressed in all fetal embryonic cultures, as was the case for adult neurons. Fetal-derived celiac and superior mesenteric gangli neurons displayed neuropeptide Y and somatostatin immunoreactivity in the same percentage of neurons as in adult cultures but at markedly lower levels. Embryonic neurons also expressed somatostatin immunoreactivity in roughly the same proportion of neurons as in adult and fetal cultures; however, the expression of neuropeptide Y immunoreactivity in both celiac and superior mesenteric gangli cultures was significantly different. Specifically, neuropeptide Y immunoreactivity in embryonic celiac cultures was greatly reduced in both the number of positive-labeled neurons and the amount of immunoreactive product, while neuropeptide Y immunoreactivity in embryonic superior mesenteric gangli cultures was markedly increased compared to their adult and fetal counterparts. The expression of neuropeptide Y immunoreactivity in celiac neurons was found to be specifically elevated by culturing the neurons in medium conditioned by disassociated vascular cells, this treatment having no effect on tyrosine hydroxylase or somatostatin immunoreactivity. Heart cell-conditioned medium did not effect neuropeptide Y or somatostatin immunoreactivity, although it did result in a significant reduction of tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactivity and an increase in 5-hydroxytryptamine immunoreactivity. We conclude that the expression of neuropeptide Y immunoreactivity develops independently in cultures of adult and near-term fetuses but that embryonic neurons require interactions with target cells to express this phenotype. Neuropeptide Y immunoreactivity can be induced in embryonic sympathetic neurons by a target-derived factor(s).
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